Monday, March 01, 2004

March 2004 Posts Recovered from The Internet Archives

These are my March 2004 posts from the dead Yahoo!Geocities site taken from The Internet Archive.

“Iraqi WMD Programs” (Posted March 31, 2004)
We continue to search for WMD in Iraq. Duelfer, the man who replaced Kay testified:
Mr. Duelfer said Monday that inspectors had uncovered new information that Iraq had in place before the war at least the technical ability to use civilian facilities to quickly produce the biological and chemical agents needed for weapons.

Still, Mr. Duelfer said: "We do not know whether Saddam was concealing W.M.D. in the final years or planning to resume production once more sanctions were lifted. We do not know what he ordered his senior ministers to undertake. We do not know how the disparate activities we have identified link together."
Most disturbing is that the Iraqis involved still aren’t talking. I thought each would be racing to avoid being the last to talk for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes. Apparently, they are silent because they fear prosecution or fear the regime’s people still. They must be induced to talk.
“Iranian Nuke Programs” (Posted March 31, 2004)
Iran is pushing for nukes and stalling Western reaction to buy time to get those nukes:
New intelligence on Iran has fueled suspicions the Islamic Republic has a secret uranium- enrichment program, possibly aimed at producing fuel for an atom bomb program, Western diplomats say.
A secret nuclear program that is only “possibly” aimed at making atom bombs. Yeah, there’s that secret sewer program and the top secret immunization program and the most secret teddy bear factory program.
Honestly, why else would Iran have secret enrichment programs?
We haven’t much time. The article says the Iranians want their first nuke by the end of 2005. If we topple the regime in early 2005, we may stop those madmen.
I hope to God we are targeting Iran’s mullahs next year.
Fallujah” (Posted March 31, 2004)
An enraged mob attacked four American contractors here today, shooting them to death, burning their vehicles, dragging their bodies through the downtown streets and then hanging the charred corpses from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
The Iraqis bravely mutilated the corpses—the only Americans that they can safely fight.
If the rules of engagement don’t let us shoot those who would string up the dead on bridges, we need a revision real fast.
I’m getting tired of complaining about Fallujah. I think I’ve noted the hostility there since last April and commented on the need for harsher methods there since then. While I’m in full agreement with the need to win hearts and minds; and the need to fight the Baathists and their new Islamist friends with the lowest amount of firepower possible; the soft approach we’ve used in Fallujah has to go. There is no evidence that we’ve impacted the hearts and minds of Fallujah residents. It’s long past time we cracked down hard.
Cut off the city. Cut the phone lines. Issue ration and ID cards. Issue food, water, and electricity and check out everybody who comes to collect their rations. Make the land around the city a free-fire zone and only let people in and out through checkpoints. Impose a strict curfew and arrest or shoot anybody outside during curfew. Sift those left for Islamists and Baathists by going door to door, block by block. How do we expect anybody in Fallujah to help us when the insurgents there are handled with kid gloves? When the insurgents seem to operate with impunity? At some point, we have to admit that this is an enemy stronghold and treat the area as enemy-held and not just filled with misguided people who can be persuaded with good deeds to side with us. This does not negate the fact that most Iraqis are friendly and that this is the right approach in much of the country. In Fallujah, however, we don’t have friends. And if we have them, they are ineffective. Pull any Iraqis who helped us out of there for their safety while we crack down.
Second, I’m ashamed that the Army turned over a city in this condition to the Marines. I worried about our strategy of pulling out of this city and turning over security to the local police and ICDC. In general, we need to do this, but it seemed premature in Fallujah.
The bankruptcy of this approach is all the more apparent when you note that there was no security reaction to the attack on the civilian contractors. No Iraqi police or ICDC. And worse, no Marines responded. How are the Marines to teach the insurgents that they have no worse enemy if the Marines concede the city to the insurgents?
Yeah, I’m far away and I could be way off on this. The Marines seem to think things are going well enough. But I don’t see any indication that we can win hearts and minds by being nice in this cesspool. Grab them by the balls. Their hearts and minds will follow.
“A Sure Sign of Success” (Posted March 30, 2004)
Although we had problems getting allies to help in the heavy lifting in the Iraq War, allies are coming:
NATO and the UN are discussing a joint operation to send more peacekeepers to Iraq. While both organizations have loudly condemned the American led coalition that overthrew Saddam Hussein, it's becoming clear that Iraq is headed for peace, prosperity and democracy. While the news media accentuates the violence of Saddam loyalists and Islamic radicals, European and UN officials are aware of the fact that the Iraqi economy is reviving at a robust rate and that most of the country is at peace and awaiting elections. While neither NATO nor the UN will admit, any time soon, that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of democracy there will do more to defuse Islamic radicalism than anything else being done, they don't want to be frozen out of the process either. Eventually, kudos will be handed out, and they want their share.
It was once said that we needed the legitimacy conferred by NATO and especially the UN in order to succeed in Iraq. Now, as success in Iraq accelerates without much help from these bodies, they want to rush in to avoid having success without them rubbed in their faces.
I’ll welcome help when offered. But let us not forget cause and effect when we recall the success of Iraq.
“Amazing Logic” (Posted March 30, 2004)
The British have arrested some would-be bombers:
Police arrested eight men and seized half a ton of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer compound used in the Oklahoma City bombing, in raids by hundreds of officers — one of the biggest anti-terrorism operations in Britain since the Sept. 11 attacks.
And the reaction of a British Moslem spiritual leader?
Home Secretary David Blunkett, who has warned for months that London is a prime terrorist target, said the arrests Tuesday were a "timely reminder" of the threat from al-Qaida. But a Muslim leader warned that the headline-grabbing dawn raids risked demonizing the whole community.
I see. Arresting bombers could demonize the Moslem community. Plotting to blow up innocents isn’t any risk for demonization, apparently.
And then a local resident gives another opinion of the arrests:
"From what I heard, the police came here at about 5 o'clock kicking doors down like (the British police TV series) 'The Sweeney.' There are young children in those houses. What do they need to do this for? It's over the top."
Yes. An hour-long operation (I’m guessing) to arrest terrorists was an awful experience for the children who witnessed it. Seeing their elders amassing the ingredients for bombs and talking about death to the infidels was just good citizenship training.
Finally, we have this complaint:
Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said such high-profile police operations fostered an impression that many Muslims supported terrorism.
The chutzpah is amazing. First of all, complaining that arresting terrorists is worse than actually being terrorists would seem to me the main way the Islamic community in Britain fosters an impression that many Moslems support terrorism. Second, although an “Islamic Human Rights Commission” exists, I highly doubt that it actually seeks to protect the human rights of people who live in Islamic cultures. I’m just guessing here, but I bet the esteemed IHRC exists to shield young would-be terrorists living in the West from the long arm of the law. I bet it exists to use the very legal protections of our Western society in an effort to protect those who would destroy those rights in a new caliphate of Greater London if they could achieve that.
We have a lot of work to do, quite clearly.
“The Arab Street Reacts to Afghanistan and Iraq” (Posted March 30, 2004)
The long-predicted reaction of Arab public opinion to our wars against Islamists and dictatorships is beginning to be evident:
The most underreported and encouraging story in the Middle East in the past year has been the emergence in public of homegrown civic movements demanding political change. Two years ago they were nonexistent or in jail. Now they are out in the open even in the most politically backward places in the region: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria. They are made up not only of intellectuals but of businessmen, women, students, teachers and journalists. Unlike their governments -- and the old school of U.S. and European Arabists -- they don't believe that change should be gradual, and they reject the dictators' claim that democracy would only empower Islamic extremists. It is the delay of change, they say, that is increasingly dangerous.

These people weren't created by George W. Bush. They are the homegrown answer to a decadent political order, and they ride a powerful historical current. But they will tell you frankly: The new U.S. democratization policy, far from being an unwanted imposition, has given them a voice, an audience and at least a partial shield against repression -- three things they didn't have one year ago.

"In the Middle East today, you talk about food, you talk about football -- and you talk about democracy," says Mohammed Kamal, a young political scientist from Egypt. "Some people condemn the Americans, others say, 'Look at the other side, these are universal values.' The point is that for the first time in many years, there is a serious debate going on in the Arab world about their own societies. The United States has triggered this debate, it keeps the debate going, and this is a very healthy development."
Like US calls of support to Soviet dissidents and to Polish dissidents, the US may respond to and endorse a recent declaration of Arab civic groups who met in Alexandria, Egypt, for democracy, civil rights, and freedom. As one Egyptian political scientist and participant of the Alexandria meeting said:
"If your governments refer to the Alexandria declaration it will strengthen and promote this trend for reform," he said. The very idea of it made him grin. "I like this," he added. "This would be very good."
Funny that support from America doesn’t seem counter-productive to the reformers.
I may overstate the point, but it seems that rather than creating a thousand bin Ladens, our war on terror has created an undetermined amount of Thomas Jeffersons.
Mostly, I just want to know why thinking Arabs deserve democracy and freedom is cultural imperialism.
“Hey! Baldwin and Streisand! Pay Attention” (Posted March 30, 2004)
All told, hundreds of civil servants have been fired over the past six weeks for signing the recall petition, violating their constitutional rights to vote, unionists charge. The number could be in the thousands if doctors at public hospitals and teachers are counted, they say.
That’s right, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez—not President Bush—is creating a climate of fear where people under his thumb could actually benefit by fleeing to France. That’s right, a buddy of Fidel. Not you two. Not anybody in this country. Attack the government in this country and you get on best-seller lists.
So grow up and recognize that dissenting doesn’t mean everybody else has to fawn over your “courage.”
In Axis of El Vil state Venezuela, dissent takes courage. Here, in a real functioning democracy with well-established freedoms, you just need a good publicist.
Meanwhile, the senior partner in the axis has paraded relatives of imprisoned activists to deny that their relatives are being mistreated:
Rejecting charges that 75 imprisoned dissidents were being mistreated, Cuba's foreign minister showed foreign reporters Thursday videotaped interviews with relatives of seven inmates who said their loved ones were fine.
Uh huh. I’d say the bargain is clear—say nice things or your relatives will be mistreated.
And in the Axis of El Vil default position, leftist rebels/drug dealers and their supposed polar opposite paramilitaries all exhibit the thuggery of vileness that earns one membership.
I fear Colombia just isn’t serious about putting the numbers of troops into the field to actually suppress this insurgent activity. As long as the government is only interested in keeping the insurgents at bay, our help won’t win that war. It’s up to them to put men into uniform. We’ve done better in Iraq in one year than the Colombians have in four decades.
And in the farcical aspect of the region, Caribbean states go to bat for Axis of El Vil wannabe Aristide:
The 15-nation Caribbean Community withheld recognition from Haiti's U.S.-backed interim government Saturday as leaders closed a summit renewing calls for a U.N. investigation into the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Truly, it speaks volumes about this group that they expend efforts to defend a minor league thug when the Cuban human rights travesty carries on in their midst with nary a protest. “The Caribbean Community, raising irrelevancy to higher levels.”®
“Take Help Where We Can” (Posted March 29, 2004)
Although Spain remains committed to withdrawing its 1,300 troops from Iraq unless the UN is in charge there (though what that could mean in Spain’s eyes is unclear), they will double their Afghanistan commitment to 250 troops.
Thank you, Spain. I am sincere in this. I am also deeply disappointed that Spain is leaving Iraq, but nonetheless happy for increased support in Afghanistan.
Take our help where we can, I say. This is a long war and we shouldn’t alienate allies by declaring them unfit because they don’t contribute as we would wish. Nor should we obsess over the exact level of commitment. Support will ebb and flow, just as it did in the Cold War (even in our own country), but the objective must be kept in mind at all times. Heck, Spain was a late addition to NATO after all.
I am curious, however, about how pulling out of the fight in Iraq will appease the Islamists yet increasing troops in Afghanistan won’t torque off al Qaeda.
Ah, nuance. Sadly it escapes my grasp.
“Victory!” (Posted March 29, 2004)
NATO expands into the former Soviet Baltic states:
With the addition of Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, NATO's membership grows from 19 countries to 26. The new members will take part in their first meeting Friday in Brussels. Three other nations — Albania, Croatia and Macedonia — hope to join.
This represents not just a victory over Soviet communism, solidifying the West’s gains and guarding against a resurgent hostile Russia, but a victory over those who insisted that NATO expansion eastward would provoke Russian hostility. The former Soviet colonies were supposed to stay in a kind of no-man’s land, in effect recognizing that Moscow had special rights to police the area. Exercising full rights of sovereignty by joining NATO was not to be allowed. Indeed, some argued that expanding into the former Soviet Union should not even be considered.
I always felt that getting rid of that gray zone would deter adventurous Russians from one day trying to rekindle the glory days of a Red Empire by playing in Eastern Europe. Instead, the most powerful alliance in the world ends that outlet for visions of renewed empire. Shoot, the Russians already pulled out of Kosovo after their 1999 flirtation with visions of past glories as the big brother of Balkan Slavs.
The Russians may not like it but we are moving east all the way to the Baltic states, and four NATO F-16s will be based in Lithuania as part of NATO’s efforts to help bolster the new members’ air defenses. It is just symbolic, of course, but so too was our defense of West Berlin in the Cold War. And the Russians now say they will only get really worried if we build up large forces there. Not an unreasonable position, really:
Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the international affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, said there is "an unfriendly character" to NATO expansion and that if significant NATO bases appear near Russia's border, "then we can't exclude that Russia will consider the possibility of taking corresponding action."
But in the meantime, all is well, and the West gained some small but brave nations that emerged from Soviet communist domination (well, Slovenia didn’t have Soviet domination, just Yugoslavian communism) and are building democracy.
Welcome to the best club in the world!
And Moscow? Look east, guys. The real threat to you is in your Far East, not NATO. The East is Red; and I hate to break this to you, but you aren’t red anymore.
Shias Rising” (Posted March 29, 2004)
The rise of the Shias in Iraq is prompting Shias in other countries to expect civil rights:
"If the empowerment goes relatively smoothly and the Shiites handle their new power and more significant role well, it can be a source of both the reassertion of Iraqi Shiism's leadership role and a source of pride for many Shiites, especially those in the Gulf," said John L. Esposito of Georgetown University.
And if we market ourselves as the helper of that pride, we may gain a lot of good will in Shia communities. There could be a Shia realignment in our favor. And if Shias feel that they deserve civil rights with American power bolstering them, we may well see a wedge for reform in Sunni Arab autocracies. And it will be safe for the Sunnis, really, since they will still be the majority (except in Bahrain).
All the more reason to help the downtrodden Shias of Iran in their struggle with the mullah overlords.
“Lesson in Freedom” (Posted March 29, 2004)
The U.S.-led coalition on Sunday shut down a weekly newspaper run by followers of a hardline Shiite Muslim cleric, saying its articles were increasing the threat of violence against occupation forces.
Sadr’s followers protested:
What is happening now is what used to happen during the days of Saddam. No freedom of opinion. It is like the days of the Baath," said Hussam Abdel-Kadhim, 25, a vendor who took part in the demonstration, referring to the Baath Party that ruled Iraq for 35 years until Saddam Hussein was ousted a year ago.
Sadr and his followers need to understand that “freedom” doesn’t mean you can plot insurrection and murder without being stopped. Stopping torture doesn’t mean that all legitimate and lawful enforcement of order is gone.
Sadr is dangerous and it looks like we are preparing to neutralize him. Getting rid of the formal militias of the factions more friendly to us is a start and justifies action against Sadr’s more dangerous goons. I don’t know whether we do it before June 30 or whether this is a task for the new Iraqi government with our support after turnover. But it must be done.
“So What?” (Posted March 29, 2004)
Iran has announced it is building no more centrifuges:
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has voluntarily expanded (the enrichment) suspension to include the production of components and assembly," state television quoted Aghazadeh as saying on its Web site.

An official of the Atomic Energy Organization explained that this referred to centrifuges and said it had been done to build greater trust with the U.N. agency, the International Atomic Energy Organization, and with Iran's European partners.
First of all, there is the question of whether this is true. We Americans should be pretty good at parsing by now. So they will no longer produce components and will no longer assemble them. First, let’s note that they have only suspended voluntarily this limitation. It could end at any time. Second, maybe they slapped together as many as they could since we started complaining about this hole in their promises and they will innocently “test” and “repair” the components already technically “built.” Or maybe they will buy whatever number they need from sources abroad. Like, oh, North Korea for example.
Even if what they say is true all the way around in that no more centrifuges will exist at the end of the day, so what?
It is unclear how many centrifuges Iran has produced. IAEA inspectors have previously reported finding "hundreds" of centrifuges, but well below the number needed to build nuclear bombs.
I dare say, if the Iranians have really stopped building centrifuges, the Iranians have all the centrifuges they need to proceed with their plans to build nuclear weapons.
We have little time to deal with Iran. Perhaps a year? Two? I have to believe we are gearing up to deal with this component of the Axis of Evil. And I trust this administration takes its responsibility to protect us seriously and that the Axis of Evil label, though not used much anymore, still means something. Were I calling the shots (to be fair, really easy for me to say from my desk), I’d be pushing for a takeover by the Iranian military in the new year, with help from American forces during the rotation of forces in Iraq. US forces could move in to secure nuclear and other WMD sites and to back up the Iranian military. I read that the polls are good for us in Iran. I read that elements of the military are favorably disposed toward us. I read that the mullahs don’t trust the regular military and don’t really trust the Pasdaran—what might be considered analogous to Saddam’s Republican Guards as far as trust is concerned. Instead, like Saddam with his Fedayeen, the mullahs have imported foreigners to man the Basij paramilitaries to terrorize dissidents.
Topple the mullahs.
“Securing Our Ports—Multilaterally!” (Posted March 28, 2004)
We are working to secure our ports against attacks. Why?
The threat they envision is a catastrophic attack on a major American port by a ship bearing a bomb. Al Qaeda has sought for seven years to use commercial ships to attack the United States at home and abroad, public records show.

A seaborne terrorist attack could cost thousands of lives and inflict billions of dollars in damage, maritime security experts say, while closing major American ports at a cost to world trade measured in tens or hundreds of billions of dollars.
And so what are we doing?
The response to this threat is a new law of the sea, spurred by Admiral Loy, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush 16 months ago. A parallel global code was adopted days later under American pressure by the United Nations's International Maritime Organization.

The law and the code set a July 1 deadline for all of the world's ships and ports to create counterterrorism systems — computers, communications gear, surveillance cameras, security patrols — to help secure America against an attack.

The cost of compliance at home and abroad will be many billions of dollars. Many American and foreign ports lack the funds to comply. But the cost of not complying could be steeper still. The law's demands create a stark confrontation between world trade and national security.

If a ship, or any one of the last 10 ports it visited, does not meet the new security standards, it can be turned away from American waters. If a port falls short, no ship leaving it can enter American harbors. That means ports, and their nations, can be barred from trading with the United States.
Of course, we’re being “bad” doing this:
"The developing world is saying that the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world is exporting the cost of protecting itself onto some of the world's poorest countries," said Stephen E. Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander and a maritime security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
I guess multilateralism isn’t always good. (But we knew that already with North Korea. It’s just so confusing…)
The July 1 deadline will not be met. Of course, just mentioning that “developing” countries will have problems will inspire attacks on us that we are heartless to their suffering. So we will have to decide what to do. We need trade. We need security. I don’t know when we get to the objective or what a realistic date is. But some deadline needs to be imposed. And sadly, if we delay the date and we are attacked after July 1 but before the new deadline, the loyal opposition will run with it.
I’m not feeling too guilty that foreign ports need to upgrade to keep one of our port cities from going up in a fireball or choking in a cloud of gas. Their failure means we pay the price in lives. And since our trade is very lucrative for so many nations, I dare say they will pay to retain access.
Fallujah Resistance” (Posted March 27, 2004)
Casualties in Iraq have gone up again since the lull at the end of February. I was surprised by the lull since the troop rotation should have been a time of increased casualties as inexperienced troops came in and more troops were on the road, vulnerable to attack.
And the Marines are taking casualties, too, as they experience the Sunni triangle:
For the last three days, marines have been patrolling into the center of the pro-Saddam Sunni Arab town of Fallujah. Each time, armed Iraqis would fire on the marines and hours of shooting would commence until the Iraqis retreated back into their civilian guises. The marines just took over the area from the army 82nd Airborne division. The army had decided to stay out of the center of Fallujah most of the time. But the marines decided to resume patrols there to test the Iraqi capabilities and to let the pro-Saddam locals know who they were dealing with. The marines have returned to Iraq with some different ideas on how to handle the Iraqi resistance. For one thing, the marines will put more emphasis on establishing close relationships with friendly Iraqis, and being more aggressive with hostile Iraqis. This is because the hostile Iraqis are directing most of their violence at Iraqis who support the new government or work for the coalition forces. So the marines are in downtown Fallujah every day, hunting down the bad guys and fighting terror with terror against those who shoot at them. Today's casualties in Fallujah were 13 dead (including one marine) and many more wounded. 
I give the Marines credit. I was uncomfortable with the Army withdrawal from the city center. While in theory, Iraqis must take over security functions, I didn’t know if the Iraqi police there could handle being on their own so soon in this hotbed of hostility. I thought harsh measures needed to be meted out to the Fallujah residents to compel them to cooperate out of fear since the promise of a new Iraq didn’t seem to work there. I worried that we were going easy on the city to reduce casualties rather than from confidence in the local police. It was difficult, however, to know whether I worried too much.
But the Marines don’t think that Fallujah is safe to leave on its own. And the Marines are now going after the Baathists and Islamists holding out in the city. That is one benefit of fresh forces—they are eager to show their stuff. Rip their hearts out, I MEF. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Guam” (Posted March 27, 2004)
Guam is gaining importance as a base again, as we redeploy forces to the Pacific. Air Force and Navy elements are going to Guam again:
Guam’s Back. Six B-52Hs from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota were stationed at Guam last month and will remain there on a rotating basis, highlighting the island’s return to importance after a decade of downsizing after the Cold War. The bombers have been moved into place to offset troop withdrawals to support activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Pacific Command is evaluating basing fighter jets and other support planes on Guam since the island is roughly 2400 kilometers from two key Pacific flashpoints, North Korea and the Taiwan Straits. In addition, the U.S. Navy has based two attack submarines at Guam with a third to be home ported there this year and is considering basing an aircraft carrier group there. 
North Korea and the Taiwan Strait are within range.
“Really, Who Else Could?” (Posted March 27, 2004)
Saddam will have a defense attorney. Prior to his execution, of course:
A French lawyer, known for defending terrorists and a Nazi leader, said Saturday he will defend Saddam Hussein
At this point, I would have been hugely disappointed if somebody other than a Frenchman had volunteered for the task.
“So Just What Are We Supposed to Talk About?” (Posted March 27, 2004)
The North Koreans have emphasized that they really don’t wish to give up their nuclear weapons:
The statement carried by Radio Pyongyang and monitored by news agencies in South Korea came just after a visit to North Korea by China's foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, and shortly before a visit to the region by Vice President Dick Cheney that is planned for April. It used typically unrestrained language in accusing the United States of secretly planning a war.

"The present situation on the Korean peninsula remains dangerous owing to the reckless moves of the U.S. war hawks and their followers to unleash a war of aggression against the D.P.R.K. so that a nuclear war may break there anytime," it said, using the initials of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Mr. Li said this week that North Korea was ready to "push forward" with a third round of talks involving the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. North Korea has said it is willing to end its nuclear programs. But in the latest statement, it appears to be setting the stage for another inconclusive effort.

The statement rejected the American demand for a "complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantling" of the country's nuclear programs. Bush administration officials have repeatedly stated that they will not sign any agreement with North Korea that does not use that wording. The administration has also said it will not provide aid or other benefits to North Korea before it scraps all its nuclear programs and allows rigorous inspections.

While North Korea often harshly criticizes the United States for what it considers an inflexible stance, the Saturday announcement seemed to go further. It put North Korea on record as saying that it could not accept the main goals President Bush and his negotiators have insisted on in the first two rounds of talks.
So what exactly did the North Koreans expect to discuss, whether they would accept MasterCard or Visa for the tribute we were expected to pay? Did the North Koreans honestly expect direct talks with us to lead to more money?
And most disturbing, this North Korean outburst happened after a meeting with the Chinese. Just what are the Chinese telling the North Koreans? In the long run, I don’t think that it is in China’s interest to have a nuclear North Korea prompt Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to go nuclear. But on the other hand, if China plans on invading Taiwan in the next four years, having a nuclear-armed North Korea to keep America busy on the Korean peninsula would be very convenient. A North Korean invasion at the same time China hits Taiwan would end the chances that North Korea could be a threat for a while (since we’d decimate the country from the air if nothing else), South Korea (since it would be rebuilding for a generation after even a successful war), Taiwan (by capturing the island), and Japan (if Japan is cowed by the sheer power of seeing China capture Taiwan and egg on an invasion of South Korea).
We need to keep slowly tightening the noose around the Pillsbury Nuke Boy’s throat. That gulag with a UN seat will crumble.
Iraq Militias” (Posted March 27, 2004)
Via Winds of Change, this article (how’d I miss it? That’s what I like about blogs. Read other blogs by people interested in the same thing and they will highlight stuff you may have missed) about “disbanding” Iraqi militias:
Members of the two forces -- the Shiite Muslim Badr Organization and the Kurdish pesh merga -- will be offered a chance to work in Iraq's new security services or claim substantial retirement benefits as incentives to disarm and disband. Members of smaller militias will also be allowed to apply for positions with the new security services, but those that choose not to disband will be confronted and disarmed, by force if necessary, senior U.S. officials said.
This is not the silver bullet to the problem of keeping religious and regional rivalries from breaking out into combat. But it is a good step. Yes, some will still be around and still in arms in some fashion, but they will be paid from the central government and so in time loyalties will shift a bit. And if in the meantime all Iraqis get used to losing gracefully knowing that death and impoverishment aren’t the price for losing, in time the idea of resorting to force will atrophy.
Plus, agreement to transform the relatively friendly militias in the south and the friendly Kurdish groups in the north will allow that final point noted above, disarming the hostile groups we allowed:
Of particular concern to the occupation authority and the U.S. military is the Mehdi Army, a militia controlled by Moqtada Sadr, a Shiite cleric who has called for U.S. forces to leave Iraq. The Mehdi Army, estimated to have a few thousand members, has sought to assert control in several cities in Shiite-dominated southern Iraq. The group is also alleged to have been responsible for an October ambush in a Baghdad slum that killed two U.S. soldiers.

"They're just thuggish, fundamentalist fighters," the U.S. official said.

The official said the presence of the Mehdi Army has made it more difficult for the Badr Organization to demobilize because of fears Sadr will use his group to exert pressure on members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution.

"If we can crack that nut and take them out, it would be a turning point," the official said. "If they're no longer a factor, the Badr would be more amenable to demobilization."
Sadr has been a thorn in our side. In a free Iraq, he should be free to call for us to leave. He should not be free to make his point with armed goons.
But remember, just because we don’t leap to a solution in one bound doesn’t mean that first steps aren’t important.
“Threat from the Sea” (Posted March 27, 2004)
In light of warnings that al Qaeda will use a ship to strike; and in light of the unrest in Venezuela (with its increasingly thuggish and anti-American Chavez in power) where lots of tankers head to US ports, this is sobering:
Security was tight early Thursday at petrochemical plants along the Gulf of Mexico following a caution issued by the FBI.
Striking Texas would of course be icing on the cake for Islamists. If an attack does occur, I’d follow the tanker or ship back and look very carefully to see if Chavez had anything to do with sheltering whatever group takes credit.
“There Will Be No Al Jazeera Film Coverage” (Posted March 27, 2004)
Normally, if a Moslems dies in the vicinity of an American, al Jazeera TV will be all over the event. Nice close-ups of the wounds will be shown. Plenty of quotes of people who think the US did it, or the dead man was just minding his own business, will be shown.
Al Qaeda-linked militants have executed eight Pakistani soldiers taken hostage in fighting near the Afghan border, officials said on Saturday, raising the temperature in an offensive on Islamic radicals.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the intensive coverage by AJ we’ve come to know and love.
Remember, all the talk by the Islamists about it being against Islam to kill Moslems only applies to other Moslems killing Islamists. The Islamists freely use the “you’re not a real Moslem when we say you’re not” loop hole. The Pakistanis need to kill these guys—not negotiate.
China Pushes” (Posted March 27, 2004)
For Taiwan, a state that China considers part of China:
On Friday, Beijing warned that it would not "look on unconcerned" if Taiwan's political crisis worsens following a disputed election. Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its territory and has threatened in the past to invade, didn't say what it might do, and it wasn't clear whether the statement was more than a ritual declaration of the mainland's rights over the island.
Just a reminder that the Taiwanese can play at being a pretend little country, but that the Chinese really will intervene when the Chinese think the situation challenges them.
For Japan, a state that China worries will help contain Chinese power:
Meanwhile, Beijing rejected the arrest of seven Chinese activists by Japan's coast guard on a disputed island chain, known to China as the Diaoyu and to Japan as the Senkaku.

"We think that it is illegal and it is a challenge to Chinese territorial sovereignty," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan.

The activists were returned to the mainland Friday and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi acknowledged that Tokyo wanted to avoid aggravating relations with Beijing.
It may just be little rocks, but the Japanese cannot afford to just turn them over to a hostile China. Who on earth believes those seven “activists” weren’t acting on Peking’s orders? The Chinese want Japan to know that Peking is watching. And ready to pounce. And just to make it clear, even when China does something to provoke a crisis, even a little one like the Senkaku incident, the Chinese expect the Japanese to shut up and behave. This lesson would apply to a bigger crisis, of course, say over Chinese “concern” over Taiwan’s internal situation.
Of course, we can count on an American academic to, if not excuse China’s behavior, at least to make it seem understandable and reasonable:
Despite its assertive statements, Beijing is merely reacting to unfolding events, said Andrew Nathan, a Chinese politics specialist at Columbia University.

"It's not an offense, it's a defense," Nathan said. "When challenged across a band of territorially related issues, the Beijing leadership responds in a way that is consistent."
And finally, for the people of Hong Kong, now in the crushing embrace of their communist masters in Peking, the Chinese remind the bastion of freedom that the light of freedom is flickering only for a little longer:
Also Friday, China said it would soon "give interpretations" of Hong Kong constitutional law on choosing the territory's leader and lawmakers — an issue that has prompted public protests.

Critics say such a step could check progress toward the full democracy the former British colony was promised in the mini-constitution written for it by Beijing when it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

Activists want Hong Kong's leader to be directly elected in 2007, instead of picked by a small assembly approved by the mainland. The activists also seek voting for all lawmakers the following year.
Nathan doesn’t like what China is doing, mind you. He comments:
"I don't think that they can solve the problem that they face in Hong Kong and Taiwan with just this kind of reaction, but they can slow the momentum of the events running against them," said Nathan. "In the short-term it's a useful tool, but not enough in the long-term."
I don’t know what he’s talking about. China just needs short term solutions for these problems. In the long run, Peking will crush Hong Kong. The ghosts of 9,000 dead at Tiananmen Square loom over every standoff between the people of Hong Kong and the thugs of Peking. And the Chinese only need short-term success with Taiwan as Peking prepares for a military solution to the problem of Taiwan drifting toward independence. And since Peking anticipates ruling Taiwan, they are deeply disturbed that the Taiwanese might get the freedom bug deeply engrained:
In Taiwan's biggest-ever protest, 500,000 supporters of defeated presidential challenger Lien Chan massed in Taipei on Saturday to dispute his loss as China vowed not to tolerate turmoil on the island.
As for Japan, in the short run, the Chinese need only sow doubt to delay Japanese resolve in case of conflict over Taiwan and Hong Kong. After a weekend of killing and arresting Hong Kong democracy activists and a fortnight of overwhelming Taiwan, cowing Japan will occur naturally.
China may yet collapse or break apart. Or it could unify itself through subjugating Taiwan and Hong Kong and breaking the US-Japan alliance, thus pushing America back from the western Pacific a bit. And sadly, our so-called friends in Europe are about to make things more difficult for us:
The reason: Our European allies might well approve plans to sell China advanced weaponry at the March 25-26 European Union summit that begins today.

The repercussions would be disastrous. Not only could China use new weapons from Europe against Taiwan, but Chinese generals have said they're prepared to confront U.S. forces in the Pacific if America tries to help Taiwan.

Why would NATO allies put the United States in this position? Money is one reason. But European commentators suspect that France and China want to build a multipolar alliance to counter American "hegemony."

This rings true, if only because the justifications Europeans proffer for renewed arms sales are patently fraudulent. Like the United States, the EU embargoed all arms sales to China after the bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Since then, Beijing has steadily introduced market reforms for China's economy, but its political, religious, and labor suppression has, if anything, worsened.

Senior Chinese diplomats recently held talks with EU officials to persuade them to lift the ban. They hint that if the EU lifts the sanctions, China will steer its big-ticket civilian purchases, including aircraft, power stations, and mass transit, away from American vendors to EU firms.
Should the Chinese launch a war, more Americans will die and the Chinese will gain the time they need to conquer Taiwan. We need to seriously rethink how we deal with our so-called allies.
We also need more of our military power in the Pacific. We need to be able to react effectively and quickly to a Chinese threat to Taiwan. And we need to support democracy activists in Hong Kong and elsewhere to pin down the Chinese as they try to keep what they have already. And who knows, maybe the freedom bug could spread widely to the mainland.
“Violence Coming” (Posted March 24, 2004)
Chavez’s people have shut down the peaceful means of opposing the increasingly thuggish rule of Chavez in Venezuela:
Venezuela's opposition wants Chavez recalled and claims to have presented more than 3 million signatures in December, more than the 2.4 million required to hold a recall vote. But the National Electoral Council decided that 870,000 of the signatures cannot be deemed valid unless citizens come forward to confirm them. The opposition said that requirement created a logistics nightmare that dooms the recall attempt.
There is one last chance for an appeal, apparently, but I can’t imagine there is much hope of that happening. Or if it does, of the ruling being obeyed.
Will the opposition just walk away as their legal means of opposing the government is torn from their hands?
Will Chavez pull in more Cubans to bolster his regime?
The Axis of El Vil could be about to compel our attention.
I hope we’ve been busy bolstering our friends since the ’02 coup attempt.
“They Always Support the Last Victory” (Posted March 24, 2004)
Opponents of the Iraq War are still fighting about the decision to go to war. They argue that while they oppose the Iraq War, the acrimony is all the President’s fault for failing to do X or to get Y’s cooperation. If only we could have just stuck with the universally supported war on al Qaeda and the Taliban, they argue, we’d be one big unified country.
But back then, many of the usual suspects argued against going to war against the Taliban:
While most of the recent media attention has focused on early internal debates about Iraqi involvement, in fact the early public debate about 9/11 was over whether Bush was rash in declaring "war" on the terrorists. Most experts and pundits -- especially among our allies -- still clung to the "counterterrorism as law enforcement" mind-set. And viewed from that frame, it was foolhardy to declare war.

For starters, declaring war seemed to elevate the terrorists to co-combatants, rather than leaving them as criminals to be dealt with by police dragnet. The decision to invade Afghanistan was even more controversial. Suddenly armchair experts were quoting Kipling and ruminating on how the Afghans had twice defeated reigning military powers, first the British Empire and then the Soviet Empire.
Some even recall the Persian Gulf War with nostalgia as a great coalition when in 1990 and 1991, they opposed the war.
And the Cold War was a struggle we all supported, they say, conveniently forgetting their opposition to the weapons and strategies to oppose the Soviet Union. Then, while the cold war raged, we were “morally equivalent.”
I dare say, it won’t be long before we must debate what to do about Iran, and the “anti-war” side will rush to oppose any forceful action, defending their opposition behind the shield of recalling the unity of the last war—the Iraq War of 2003.
Really, as a general rule, it is only the proposed war to defend ourselves that the loyal opposition opposes, not the past victories. When these people say war is the last resort, they mean it far more literally than anyone could possibly believe.
“The Threat from the Sea” (Posted March 23, 2004)
The Islamists still want to kill us in large numbers. Or somebody, at least. The attacks since 9-11 show the Islamists are not too picky about their victims.
And this report is pretty sobering about the likelihood of Islamists attacking a port by sea:
What would happen to global trade if Al-Qaeda or one of its fanatical emulators successfully detonated a nuclear or radiological bomb in a major port-city? This is one of the nightmare scenarios for officials in the United States who warn that the next big attack on America could come by sea, not by air, and that it may involve chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons. Historically, shipping has played a pivotal role in world trade. Yet for all its global significance, the shipping industry is vast, poorly regulated, frequently beyond the reach of the law, and often secretive in its operations. Despite a raft of new maritime-based anti-terror legislation, the world's oceans and the shipping industry remain an attractive domain for terrorist operations.
Strategypage has this to say, which gives me hope:
The amphibious component of Canada's commando organization (Joint Task Force 2, or JTF2) have been practicing dealing with hijacked and ships and cargo ships. It is believed that al Qaeda has plans to seize offshore oil rigs and ships carrying dangerous chemicals (including gasoline or Liquid Natural Gas) and turn them into terrorist weapons. 
Even the Canadians are preparing for this next crisis. The US and Britain are thought to be preparing, too.
“The Pre-9-11 Focus” (Posted March 23, 2004)
Just a day before 9-11, the administration finished its plan to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda:
Not until the day before the attacks did U.S. officials settle on a strategy to overthrow the Taliban Afghan government in case a final diplomatic push failed. That strategy was expected to take three years, the independent commission investigating the attacks said in one of two preliminary reports.
This account says it foresaw diplomatic overtures to get bin Laden, and then aid to internal opposition to overthrow them, and if all failed, a military option to overthrow the Taliban with direct action. This was to take place by the end of the administration’s first term of office.
Are the anti-war people going to argue that we also planned on taking down Saddam militarily in the first term?
Seriously, while the administration probably did plan to more actively seek the regime change in Iraq that US law stated was US policy, I think it is fairly obvious that a president who won in such a tight election was not about to embark on a war against Saddam with all the uncertainties that would have entailed. 9-11 is what changed that calculation of risk. And even then, we took down the Taliban and gored al Qaeda first. No fixation on Iraq distracting us from Islamist terrorism.
Please bring on the next plastic turkey.
“So How Did We Prepare in the 1990s?” (Posted March 23, 2004)
I was able to listen to part of the 9-11 Commission testimony today. I heard most of former Secretary of Defense Cohen’s testimony. I’ve always respected Cohen. He seems decent. He asserted that it was difficult to gain actionable intelligence and that there was no hesitancy about going after al Qaeda had we gained actionable intelligence.
I think Cohen over-estimates the willingness of the past administration to go after our enemies. The 8-year record in this matter highlights the reluctance he says was not there.
I grant that preemptively going after the enemy before they killed thousands of us at once was problematic. But I don’t think the mindset of going on offense was ever there. I don’t remember any effort to galvanize the American people to go on the offensive.
Indeed, an article in the Washington Post on July 26, 1999, entitled “Preparing for a Grave New World,” (no link, another paper article I dug up while cleaning out my office) by Secretary Cohen is a great window on administration thinking nearly a year and a half after bin Laden’s declaration of war on us. Nearly a year after the Africa embassy bombings. Half a year after the aerial punishment of Iraq in Desert Fox for interfering with disarmament inspections. The administration did see a threat:
We cannot afford a case of farsightedness that precludes us from focusing on threats closer to home, such as the potential danger of a chemical or biological attack on U.S. soil. …

At least 25 countries, including Iraq and North Korea, now have—or are in the process of acquiring and developing—weapons of mass destruction.
So the administration did see a threat more pressing than rogue computer hackers. The administration also worried about terrorists:
Also looming is the chance that these terror weapons will find their way into the hands of individuals and independent groups—fanatical terrorists and religious zealots beyond our borders, brooding loners and self-proclaimed apocalyptic prophets at home.
So a grave new world was looming. Nutjobs wanted to kill Americans. Nutjob regimes were developing WMD. And the nutjobs might work together.
He went on to describe the horrors of a biological attack and how resources to cope would be overwhelmed.
So what was the administration’s answer to this threat? One which the secretary said, “Someday, one will be real.” Surely, the administration pledged to seek out our enemies wherever they were to kill them before they can strike? No? Then surely they proposed to strengthen law enforcement at home to at least attempt to defend against such psychos? No, again? What then was the answer to this problem?
We have to prepare.
Cohen wrote that preparation alone would deter our enemies by minimizing the carnage they could inflict with chemicals or bio weapons. He then offered specifics:
As part of a federal interagency effort launched last year by President Clinton and led by the National Security Council, the Defense Department is doing its part to prepare the nation for the catastrophic consequences of an attack that unleashes these horrific weapons. Because it has long prepared to face this grim possibility on the battlefield, the military has unique capabilities to offer in the domestic arena as well.
So we must focus on coping with an attack that sickens or poisons thousands of Americans? Surely, an Op-Ed in the Post by our Defense Secretary would not just fatalistically warn that all we can do to face this threat is to tend to the injured and bury our dead? He goes on:
But merely managing the consequences of an attack is not sufficient. We must be vigilant in seeking to interdict and defeat the efforts of those who seek to inflict mass destruction on us. This will require greater international cooperation, intelligence collection abroad and greater information gathering by law enforcement agencies at home.
Oh! So close.
Yes, intel is needed but this is all passive playing defense stuff. No hint of seeking out our enemies. Just spotting them, interdicting them, and cleaning up after they douse us with bugs or gas.
Oh. And one more part for those who kept thinking they heard the word “imminent” from the administration as we debated going to war with Iraq:
The race is on between our preparations and those of our adversaries. [NOTE: let’s not be hasty and call them “enemies.”] We are preparing for the possibility of a chemical or biological attack on American soil because we must. There is not a moment to lose.
I bring this up not to cast blame. Clinton would have had great difficulty rousing the nation for sustained offensive action. Most thought history had ended. Our enemies had given up. President Clinton never tried to rally the nation, true, but I’m more interested in working the problem and stopping future attacks. But when the loyal opposition pretends that the threats we fight today were dreamed up on the Crawford ranch in January 2001 for partisan political purposes, or oil, or empire-building, or sheer fascist joy in dropping bombs, I just want to, well, rant.
We’ve known the threats for a decade. We only just started fighting seriously in this administration.
“Crash Naval Building Program” (Posted March 23, 2004)
Oops. Yesterday I referenced this article, thinking I’d already posted it.
We have a recent report that the Chinese have embarked on a crash naval building program in order to have the ability to invade Taiwan:
For the past 18 months, foreign military experts have observed, the military has concentrated particularly on strengthening its sea power. The main reason, they say, is to provide the government in Beijing with a credible military option if Taiwan crosses Beijing's red line -- a formal declaration of independence -- and brings the long-simmering standoff to a boil.

"These people are building ships like nobody's business," a military attache in Beijing said. "It's mind-boggling."

Construction has begun on about 70 military ships over the last 12 months, including a number of landing craft, and China is considering acquisition of another two Soviet-designed Sovremenny-class destroyers to complement the three it already owns, he added. More Kilo-class submarines are the subject of negotiations or already purchased, adding to the four bought several years ago.
The goal?
Foreign military experts in contact with Chinese officers have concluded that the goal of the Taiwan-oriented military modernization is to provide the leadership with the ability to inflict some kind of attack should the need arise, while at the same time making any U.S. intervention to protect the self-governing island at least a little dangerous, forcing Washington to think twice.
The article notes that the Pentagon judges that the Chinese have the ability to lift 10,000 troops with their military sealift.
The Chinese need lots of ships soon?
The Taiwanese need to develop a serious sense of purpose very quickly. Us too.
“Trigger for War” (Posted March 22, 2004)
The Chinese know that the Taiwanese lean heavily toward independence or maintaining the status quo. President Chen has been pushing independence for Taiwan and the Chinese know that the trend is not going to be reversed. Taiwanese are just not going to pine for the mainland.
But Taiwan’s constitution is still based on the fiction of reunification and needs fixing. So:
To settle these matters, Chen has proposed a new constitution, to be submitted to the people in a referendum in 2006, and to take effect at the time of the next presidential election in the spring of 2008. The new constitution, however, is seen by China and the U.S. as a parcel of high explosives, since it will, as any constitution must, contain some firm definition of what Taiwan actually is. That would blow away the "strategic ambiguity" under which Taiwan has survived and prospered through the post-Mao, post-Chiang period of Chinese history. (Mao and Chiang died within a few months of each other.) It would do so, furthermore, just as China's Communists were about to hold a huge politico-nationalistic orgy to legitimate their rule — the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
The Chinese are on a crash-building program for their navy. The Chinese want Taiwan under their control. They can see Taiwan rearming and getting a relevant defense force under our prodding. They can see that the Taiwanese don’t want to be part of China. They know Taiwan could go nuclear if it chose to do so, making conquest a costly endeavor for China. And they see a deadline coming up in 2008 with a new constitution that will abandon the pretense that the Taiwan Strait divides two parts of one China.
As I’ve said before, if the Chinese are sincere about Taiwan being more important than anything, they will strike Taiwan before the 2008 Olympics. They would use the preparation for the Olympics to cover their attack and quickly crush Taiwan before they can go too far. And before they can build defenses to hold off the Chinese until America can intervene.
I take the Chinese at their word. They see absorbing Taiwan as more important than anything else.
Chen cannot back up his independence talk yet. He needs to buy time to defend his words. Not that Taiwan doesn’t deserve independence, but we live in the real world. Saying that Chen’s actions could trigger a wholly unwarranted war is not blaming the victim.
If we can’t restrain Chen, we may end up in a war with China over Taiwan in early 2008.
“Plastic Turkey” (Posted March 22, 2004)
Ah, the press has hauled out their next plastic turkey pseudo-scandal. It’s always so exciting waiting for the next bogus charges to come rolling out.
Richard Clarke says that the White House ignored the Clinton administration’s warnings about Al Qaeda and their plans to go after bin Laden.
Yeah right. He has a book to sell and we’re supposed to buy his charges. Rice has a nice piece taking his charges apart. The bottom line:
Let us be clear. Even their most ardent advocates did not contend that these ideas, even taken together, would have destroyed al Qaeda. We judged that the collection of ideas presented to us were insufficient for the strategy President Bush sought. The president wanted more than a laundry list of ideas simply to contain al Qaeda or "roll back" the threat. Once in office, we quickly began crafting a comprehensive new strategy to "eliminate" the al Qaeda network. The president wanted more than occasional, retaliatory cruise missile strikes. He told me he was "tired of swatting flies."
Clarke would have us believe that he warned Bush’s people to no avail and that the failure of the administration to crush al Qaeda in the 8 months before 9-11 is proof of failure to appreciate the threat.
One would think that somebody in the press would ask if the warnings were so dire and the plans so good and the threat so clear, why didn’t the previous administration do something to implement those plans in its 8 years? Why was their resolve so carefully hidden from the public? One would have thought that they only wanted to lob cruise missiles at empty tents and pharmaceutical plants and issue lip-biting apologies for our neglect. Oh, and mourn publicly to show how much they care. Can’t forget that.
It is nice, I admit, to see the loyal opposition arguing for a preemptive strategy. I’m sure there would have been no complaints by Clarke and his friends if we had attacked the Taliban to overthrow them in June 2001.
Just maybe they could have held their tongues. But then when 9-11 happened, the loyal opposition would have claimed we caused the attack. Despite its long planning time. Guarantee it.
And surely, if we had scrutinized every Moslem entering our country, I’m sure that Clarke and his ilk would have somberly agreed that this was a prudent precaution to take given the great threat to us. I hope nobody would suggest that the loyal opposition would complain of a new fascist regime going on a witch hunt against peaceful visitors just trying to better themselves by learning to take off and turn jumbo jets.
Not much of a new plastic turkey. But they never are, are they?
“This is Disturbing” (Posted March 21, 2004)
We’ve already seen how 9-11 was based in Europe. I’ve mentioned before how Islamists are produced in Europe. I even have sympathy for the French headscarf ban.
This is nice bedtime reading sure to disturb your sleep:
The jihadists of Europe have drunk deeply from the virulently anti-American left-wing currents of Continental thought and mixed it with the Islamic emotions of 1,400 years of competition with the Christian West. It's a Molotov cocktail of the third-world socialist Frantz Fanon and the Muslim Brother Sayyid Qutb. Muslims elsewhere have gone through similar conversions--the United States, too, has had its Muslim jihadists and will, no doubt, produce more. And the globalization of this virulent strain of fundamentalist, usually Saudi-financed, Islam is real and probably getting worse. But the modern European experience seems much more likely to produce violent young Muslims than the American. Europe may be competitive with the worst breeding grounds in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
And the author notes that this radicalization has nothing to do with the Iraq War, or the Palestinian cause, or Americans in Saudi Arabia, or any of the other dozen reasons from the last ten years alone that the “what did we do to deserve this” school opines on. And this homegrown nature makes sense, since none of the actions America has taken to protect Moslems seems to have had an impact on defusing their radicalism.
I’ve never liked the European policy of keeping their immigrants foreigners even in the third generation. For all our problems, our immigrants become Americans. And if not them, then their children. And these new citizens fight for their new country—not for the sick green flag of a murderous brand of Islam. Whatever our immigration problems, they’re nothing compared to what the Europeans have. And we can at least draw comfort that we gain from our immigrants.
The author worries that the Euro-Islamists really don’t hate enough to bomb anybody but Americans. He thinks that bombing mere Europeans is beneath them. Personally, I doubt that the hate of European-born Islamists is so easily compartmentalized. But maybe the Islamist threat to Europe is mainly Middle Eastern and North African in origin, while the Euro-scum are a threat to us. If so, you’d think the Europeans would be eager to fight overseas to destroy the Islamists that threaten them.
As frustrating as it is that Europe will not help us in the Middle East and Central Asia in any significant manner, just as we want Middle Eastern states to focus on combating Islamists in their own countries, perhaps we should settle for the Europeans being vigorous in their own backyard. That might be the most important thing the Europeans can do for the war on terror under the circumstances.
So what if the author’s analysis is right? What if European Moslems are really our problem and not Europe’s problem. Worse, what if the Europeans won’t suppress the Homegrown Islamists? Maybe the Europeans are not nearly as enthusiastic as we are about taking the fight to the source of Islamism because they fear the precedent. For if the Europeans agree that going after the Islamists where they plot is just, and if the Europeans try to ignore their murderers, they might “see” B-2s in the skies over Europe one day, preemptively striking Islamists preparing to attack America. And given the problems of assimilation, perhaps the law enforcement solution in Europe is too daunting for the Europeans to vigorously pursue.
Of course, even if the Europeans are not up to an effective counter-Islamism fight at home, it would sure help if the Europeans would at least stop carping and nipping at our heels as we fight the Islamists in the arc of crisis from Africa to Southeast Asia. Not only does this fight protect us, it protects the Europeans.
“Axis of El Vil” (Posted March 20, 2004)
Chavez is one. Of course. It goes without saying that Castro is another solid leg. The third? Aristide is tempting but he is too penny ante to be on any list. The new Spanish prime minister is a tempting target but he’s just clueless, really. The third has to be the Colombian leftist/drug dealer insurgents.
These axis members don’t warrant discussion as evil since they are not threats to us in the same league as Iran, North Korea, or as Iraq was. But they are states of concern, shall we say, that can distract us from our main fight against Islamist nuclear terror yet remain significant problems.
Oh, and “El Vil” means “the vile one” in Spanish. It was just too good not to use. I had to Google it and I appear to be the first to coin it. Heh.
“Why Did Libya Give Up its WMD?” (Posted March 20, 2004)
Yesterday on the way home, NPR had a guest on, Martin Indyk (of the Clinton administration), who was supposed to counter the idea that Libya gave up its entire WMD program—including a nuclear program we didn’t know about—as a result of the Iraq War putting the fear of XVIII Airborne Corps into him.
Indyk related that Libya had opened discussions with the US in 1999 to get rid of its chemical weapons. They went nowhere but the NPR guy seemed determined to insist that this was the real reason Libya agreed to give up everything in 2003. To his credit, Indyk did not play is planned role of debunker. Despite being led to say so, Indyk would not assert that Libya was ready to give up its WMD long ago and that the war was irrelevant. Indyk would only say that he could confirm that there were talks going on.
He also noted that in 1999, Libya did not have a nuclear program.
So, Libya wanted sanctions ended. Libya was willing to give up chemical weapons. (And who knows, maybe the Desert Fox strikes of 1998 influenced Khadaffi to give up his chemical arms lest the US strike him, too.) Libya still embarked on a nuclear program. Which was kind of clever since he would look clean by giving up a known WMD program—chemicals—while pursuing an unknown—nuclear. Saddam tried that with biological weapons after all, and we figured that out only several years after the Persian Gulf War when a defector fingered the unknown program.
And only in 2003, after the Iraq War, did Libya agree to give up everything.
Haven’t we learned from the Iranians and North Koreans that people determined to get nukes are more than willing to negotiate if it buys them time and/or gets them material benefits?
NPR was determined to refute the lesson of strength and ended up supporting the lesson of strength.
“Target: Al Qaeda Offensive” (Posted March 20, 2004)
The Pakistanis are going hammer and tongs at al Qaeda and Islamists holed up in a number of mud-brick fortresses near the Afghan border. US and Afghan forces on the Afghan side of the border are waiting if any flee.
The thugs made a big mistake holding their position. Several hundred thugs could have been a serious problem in small groups fighting as irregulars. It could have taken years to run them down.
Instead, perhaps because they are defending a “high value target” (Probably Al-Zawahri), they are fighting a conventional battle. In this fight, they are just a crappy infantry battalion taking on a much larger conventional force. Big mistake on their part. Even if the high value target escapes, killing or capturing so many Islamists in one battle will be a big victory for the good guys.
I am amused that the thugs are warning us to stop chasing them or they’ll attack us (dang. Can’t find the link). It was good for a laugh but they are a bit off in their lesson: if we stop chasing them, then they will attack. This is a big lesson in all warfare. When an enemy is beaten, pursue them and destroy them ruthlessly. False compassion may lead you to hold off but if they do not surrender, they must be killed. If they are not pursued and killed, one day they will stop running, regain their courage, pick up their weapons, and rejoin the fight.
Remember that the Taliban made this mistake with the Northern Alliance, allowing them to live on in a small portion of Afghanistan. Apparently beaten, once resupplied and bolstered by American special forces, the Northern Alliance swept the Taliban from power.
Chase down the Taliban and al Qaeda while they are running. They are easier to kill when running. And if we fail to kill them, they will attack us again.
Iraq War After One Year” (Posted March 20, 2004)
Last night one year ago, the first strike of the Iraq War commenced. Mark Steyn really says it all.
And I stand by my posts in February 2003 where I laid out the case for war as I saw it. The first. The second.
I know that some say we are losing more people now than before 9-11 (conveniently skipping that one day, of course). I just wonder what these people would have said in 1942. Goodness, we lost more military people at the hands of the Germans and Japanese than we had in 1941. Wasn’t this proof we were making things worse? And in 1943, we lost even more than the prior year.  Sure, we knocked Italy out of the war but that was just a distraction from Germany, right? How strong was Italy? And in 1944? Sheesh. D-Day was bloody and the Battle of the Bulge seemed to show we hadn’t beat the Germans as much as we wanted. Then in 1945, the Japanese were still fighting like mad on Okinawa and the war was looking like it would drag on into 1946. But in 1945, we won. And in 1946, casualties went down to hardly any.
We have lost fewer than 400 killed in action in Iraq in one year. Scores in Afghanistan. This is a scale that represents individual and family tragedy, not quagmire. Yes, as long as we refused to fight, we “just” lost relative handfuls every year to terrorists. Now we fight so lose soldiers. But our enemy is losing lots. And we are on the offensive now. One day we will win. And the losses of 9-11 should show us that had we done nothing, those acceptable losses would have grown and grown. And if we didn’t start to seriously crush enemies who insist on going nuclear, the risk of a truly devastating attack would have grown every day.
One year on, let the “peace protesters” whine that Iraqis are free. That they are no longer tortured and raped and robbed of their nation’s riches. My God, consciences that could still protest after all we have learned about Saddam are truly unplugged from reality.
It was a good war.
“Al Qaeda Command and Control” (Posted March 18, 2004)
Is al Qaeda issuing commands?
The Islamic militant group that claimed responsibility for last week's Madrid train bombings has warned that its next targets could be the United States, Japan, Italy, Britain or Australia, an Arabic newspaper reported Thursday. …

In its statement, Abu Hafs al-Masri said it was calling a truce in Spain to give the socialist government that was elected Sunday, three days after the train attacks, time to carry out its pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq.
I always thought of al Qaeda as more of a brand name that essentially franchised its name to thugs willing to kill in the name of the organization. Bin Laden had some company-owned terrorists but he has been put out of action. Local groups who love the brand name kill innocents happily enough, but will they really follow this guidance? Sure, the Islamists would love to hit the named countries. I’m sure they’d love to hit countries they’ve named in the past. Or any others if they can.
And most importantly, can statements like this really restrain any Spain-based terrorists? Won’t they want to strike again despite the promised withdrawal from Iraq? Is Spain’s presence really their only sin in al Qaeda’s eyes?
If the Islamists fail to strike again in Spain, it will be because the Spanish authorities are putting too much pressure on them.
Oh, and we may be on to something around Afghanistan:
Pakistani forces believe they have cornered and perhaps wounded Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, in a major battle near the Afghan border, an area where many believe the world's most wanted terrorist has been hiding, three senior Pakistani officials said Thursday.
Some paramilitaries down there are fighting awfully hard to hold some nondescript mud-brick compounds.
I knew I had a good feeling about this new effort.
“Chavez Plays Hardball” (Posted March 18, 2004)
One third of Latin America’s Axis of El Vil is determined to deny his opponents a peaceful means of protesting Chavez’s increasingly oppressive rule:
Venezuela's government opened an investigation Wednesday that could lead to the removal of three Supreme Court magistrates who ruled that signatures on petition for a vote to recall President Hugo Chavez were valid.
This will get ugly. I hope we’re prepared to support our friends down there.
“North Korean Bargaining Position” (Posted March 18, 2004)
I love it when the North Koreans open their mouths.
We’re supposed to be negotiating with North Korea about the amount of our tribute to them so that they will not go nuclear—or rather, more nuclear:
North Korea says it has reprocessed 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods in a process that could yield enough plutonium for several nuclear bombs, in addition to the one or two it is believed to already possess.
That the North Koreans pledged this ten years ago is not relevant, apparently, to the position of some that we must pay. The outline of the deal is supposedly this:
North Korea said it would allow inspections and dismantle its nuclear programs only if the United States provides economic aid and written guarantees that U.S. forces won't not invade.
But then the North Koreans go and open their mouths. The appeasers over here could do so much better if the North Koreans would just let them do their public speaking. Check out North Korea’s statement:
"What has happened in Iraq shows that if we agree to disarmament through unjustified inspections, it will not prevent a war but actually invite one," said KCNA, North Korea's official news agency.
So, basically, North Korea wants money from us. They want a guarantee we won’t invade them. And in return…
Oh wait, there isn’t anything in return since they said that they really don’t trust us to promise not to invade.
So let’s see, what is the revised North Korean negotiating position? Ah, yes, shell out money to North Korea and just shut up about anything else. You Japanese especially are being unhelpful for bringing up that whole kidnapping thing again and again.
The Pillsbury Nuke Boy is tiresome. Squeeze him, slowly, and his regime will crack.
Europe the Prize” (Posted March 17, 2004)
Spain may or may not leave Iraq. We shall see. But if Spain carries out its pledge to abandon us in Iraq, it will have an impact. We can’t just shrug and say European militaries are insignificant anyway so why bother paying attention to them. Europe is a prize we can lose.
Applebaum notes that we can’t just ignore the impact of our war on terror on our European allies. As she notes:
We may still "win" in Iraq, over time. That is, we may eventually see Iraq become a relatively stable, relatively liberal society, living in relative peace with its neighbors. But if, in doing so, we "lose" Europe, that will be a Pyrrhic victory indeed.
They may not be militarily significant but collectively, the European states are part of the West we defend. And if such a big part of the West drifts away? What will we be defending? What new burdens will we then carry?
Yes, we must beat the terrorists and destroy the states that might give them the means to kill millions of us. The mission must not be compromised for the coalition. Process must never triumph or results in a struggle with such high stakes.
To say this does not mean that we cannot simultaneously fight to maintain our European alliances. It is too easy to just say they are wimps or Venusians or whatever, and go our own way. Shoot, I find it very easy to do with the French. But as we take care of our objectives, we should not skimp on the effort to smooth ruffled feathers. Brooks notes that the Spanish election will constrain our actions as the Europeans pull back from active measures to fight terror. Note the tone of resignation to enduring further Islamist attacks that the Europeans display!
But although the politicians, the police and the people of Europe know another attack on the scale of the Madrid is nearly certain -- the only questions being when and where -- many were sanguine about the risk and the response.
Where is the determination to kill the bastards first? Why can’t the Europeans see that we can’t just double the guards and hope we can cope with the inevitable suffering?
Nor is America itself without blame. Where was our State Department? Why hasn't Colin Powell spent the past few years crisscrossing Europe so that voters there would at least know the arguments for the liberation of Iraq, would at least have some accurate picture of Americans, rather than the crude cowboy stereotype propagated by the European media? Why does the Bush administration make it so hard for its friends? Why is it so unable to reach out?
It is important to keep Europe in the Western camp and not let it drift into hostility or even just neutrality. It is easy to forget, as we complain they do not pull their weight in defense issues, that Europe is a prize itself. During the Cold War, we knew we could not let the scientific and productive center of Western Europe fall into enemy hands. In World War II and World War I, we too fought to keep a hostile power from organizing Europe to project power across the Atlantic to threaten us. In the post-Cold War world, we have pressed Europe to be an active ally around the world and have forgotten that Europe still is an objective to fight for.
But instead of a hostile power taking over the continent we must worry about the Europeans turning hostile from within. We must fight this battle. And the State Department must take the lead in fighting this battle. We could start by reversing our support for European integration. The EU bureaucracy is hostile toward us and so why on earth would we encourage this? Then go on to explaining our policies again and again and again.
And it is not a hopeless fight. There are signs of hope in all the European states—old and new. There are even hopeful signs in Spain:
Thousands of protesters accused Spain's new prime minister of being "the president of al-Qaida" in demonstrations Wednesday to support the defeated party of outgoing leader Jose Maria Aznar.
The State Department has a role in this war. It is failing. And the administration is failing by not making it work for us.
“Shame!” (Posted March 16, 2004)
Do the French have no shame? That they would team up with China in naval maneuvers that are attempting to intimidate Taiwan is just awful. This Reuters article (via NRO link, but the email link died. I sent the text to myself so here’s part):
China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.
This is particularly interesting:
French President Jacques Chirac, keen to strengthen ties with China and win French business a firm footing in the rapidly growing market, sided with China in January in opposing Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's plan to hold a referendum on missile defense alongside presidential elections on March 20.
How shocking! France would side with a dictator for contracts? They would side with a thug regime that we might have to fight?
Oh yeah, no Iraq contracts for France. Paris is darned good at reminding me why we cannot forget their treachery.
“Tipping Point?” (Posted March 16, 2004)
The referendum on whether Chavez will remain dictator/president/psycho of Venezuela is heading to court.
Will the court keep the path of peaceful constitutional change open? Or will it leave the opposition no legal means to oppose Chavez’s increasingly thuggish rule?
And if the court gives the green light to the referendum, what will Chavez do?
The world’s middling problems are never so kind as to shut the heck up while we cope with the big problems.
“Will European Appeasement Help Us after Madrid?” (Posted March 16, 2004)
While it is certainly important to know what motivated the Spanish voters to vote the socialists into power, Islamists will conclude that they did indeed overthrow an American ally by killing enough Spanish citizens. Indeed, many leftists in Europe and here in America will rejoice that a pro-war government has fallen. While properly regretting the civilian deaths, I’m sure.
The new Spanish government lifts the spirits of the “anti-war” side because the socialists have pledged to pull Spain’s troops out of Iraq. The worry we have is that other allies will be so afraid of similar bombings that they too will pull out of Iraq.
But what if the European fear of similar “retribution” leads them to pressure Spain to remain in Iraq?
Really. Hear me out.
If Spain carries out its threat to pull out, the Islamists will have no doubt that sufficiently bloody attacks on democracies can compel the voters to place compliant governments into power. The Islamists will look for new targets in Europe. European governments might decide that it is safer to pressure Spain to stay in Iraq than to pull their own troops out of Iraq to appease the Islamists. After all, not all the European political parties are so deluded as to believe that the Islamists are reasonable terrorists with identifiable demands that can be safely satisfied. As fun as bashing America might be in public, their quiet cooperation away from Iraq shows the Europeans know we must destroy the terror networks and cells. They know that the Islamists will target Europeans whether or not they support us in Iraq. So, by doing nothing while Spain pulls out, other European states paint targets on their backs. But if Spain’s socialist government is willing to stay in Iraq, what hope will the Islamists have that they can change other countries’ policies? The Islamists might look for easier and more fruitful targets. Like insufficiently “pure” Moslems that they’ve taken to killing lately.
The coming sovereignty turnover, the introduction of an official NATO role, and even the return of the UN for limited purposes may all provide cover for Spain to keep troops in Iraq:
"Even this incoming Spanish government would not be willing to...abandon Iraq, and so putting its troops under a NATO umbrella could be a face-saving formula," said one diplomat.
Let me make it clear, Spain has sinned many times over many centuries in the eyes of the Islamists, so asserting that alliance with America caused the attack is ridiculous. Grievances are everywhere. The Spanish might want to return Parsley Island back to Morocco. Just in case. And that whole women voting stuff will have to go. You never know what will tick the Islamists off, after all.
I’m just saying that European fear might work for us this time. Sheer idle, contrarian speculation, of course, but who knows?
And as a bonus, maybe those who believe in a European-style, police-based war on terror will realize that sitting on the defensive as the Spanish voted to carry out is exactly the strategy that failed Spain on 3-11. Apparently, its failure on 9-11 wasn’t enough.
Make our enemies fear what we will do to them.
So sue me, I’m an optimist.
“Press the Enemy” (Posted March 15, 2004)
We are pushing hard in Afghanistan. The increased troop levels are basically special forces formerly occupied in Iraq looking for high value targets.
The rumors of a spring offensive said Rangers and an aircraft carrier were to be deployed to go on the offensive in Afghanistan.
We are moving in Afghanistan with no sign of these forces (which I argued were not needed in Afghanistan—and in the case of the carrier, made no sense).
But a Somalia offensive could use Rangers and a carrier, plus a Marine Expeditionary Unit as part of an amphibious strike group and the Djibouti-based US and allied forces, to hit al Qaeda in the Horn region. These units could support special forces and CIA operatives in a widespread operation designed to nail Islamists all over the Horn region after they fled there following our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Allies such as Kenya, and perhaps Tanzania if they are up to it, could coordinate actions against domestic Islamists to spread the net.
I’ve urged some type of offensive soon to maintain the momentum of attacking the enemy. We cannot let our people or our enemies forget we are still coming after the Islamists. Yes, avoid the really tough ones like Iran and North Korea until after the elections in November (and Syria and Saudi Arabia for that matter) but we must strike someplace now. Before the “anti-war” side here argues an operation is an October surprise (can we count on terrorists to similarly show restraint as they indicate who they’d prefer in the White House?) This will also have the advantage of not stressing our main conventional units as they recover from Iraq.
I liken a Somalia operation to the North African invasion in 1942. We needed visible movement in the war yet could not go after the enemy in its home lair yet.
We are at war. This is no time to rest on our laurels.
“The Arab Street Stirs” (Posted March 15, 2004)
The Afghan campaign, with its terrible fighting through the Islamic holy season, was supposed to ignite the Arab street in a frenzy of anti-American violence that would pull down nominally pro-American rulers and enflame anti-American states into active violence against us.
The Iraq War, too, though it did ignite members of the European Street, similarly failed to inspire the Arab/Moslem street to wage unrelenting jihad.
But now, we see the street stirring:
Ever since the United States invaded Iraq (news - web sites), some Arab leaders have been acting out of character, talking about big changes in the works and using all the proper keywords: democracy, transparency, choice, human rights. …

The Arab world's baby steps toward reform actually began after the Sept. 11 attacks, when some senior Arab figures recognized the link between the absence of democracy and the rise of religious fanaticism.

It picked up pace after Baghdad fell to the American-led coalition in April and Bush's grand design for the Middle East became clearer.

In November, Bush declared that Western governments had been wrong for decades in backing undemocratic, corrupt leaders in the Middle East. As long as the region has no freedom, he said, "it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export."
This is where the enemy center of gravity is. We must stay on the offensive. Militarily to crush the current enemies—state and non-state enemies—who want to kill our people and who seek the capacity to count our dead in mega-deaths.
But we must also push for rule of law, economic growth, and democracy (in that order more or less) in authoritarian states that give their people poverty and no hope for change except through Islamism.
This need to go on the offensive is one obvious answer to Islamist terrorism and I am forever astounded that the left in this country cannot see this. They do not want us to go on the offensive and they do not want us to be able to effectively stand on the defense by their opposition to the Patriot Act (actually, they oppose their fevered delusions of what the act does). Can they not see the problem of opposing both? And I’m not even going into discussing the folly of trying to successfully win the war on terror while ceding the initiative to the enemy by remaining on the defensive.
Victory, with safety and civil rights in our country the objective, depends on winning on the offensive in the recruiting grounds of the Islamists and their state backers that could give them the means of killing millions of us.
Stirrings of freedom in the Arab street are one sign that the offensive is having an effect.
“Crud” (Posted March 15, 2004)
The Spanish may pull their troops out of Iraq on June 30:
Spain's incoming leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Monday he would probably pull Madrid's troops out of the "disastrous" occupation of Iraq (news - web sites), in a major swing from his predecessor's pro-American foreign policy.
They were also scheduled to take command of the multi-national division now commanded by Poland. Poland is stepping up to retain command another year. I sure hope the Poles are benefiting from US-funded contracts to rebuild Iraq. For however much the French and Germans remind us they fight with us in Afghanistan (and I thank them for that), those countries have opted out of Iraq and so should not be eligible for Iraq contracts. Afghan contracts, sure—but not Iraq. Save those for allies on the ground. And remember that Poland is punching above its weight. France and Germany are way below.
Should Spain be penalized in contracting? Well, they were with us in the first crucial year and that still counts for a lot in my book. Benefits of alliance and cooperation should not be the same as for allies on the ground, however. With luck, the Spanish will decide that the June 30 turnover will prove that the occupation is not in fact disastrous and that Spain will continue to help a new democracy emerging from fascist rule. This should appeal to the Spanish socialists, shouldn’t it?
This is a disturbing development if it goes forth as it appears it will. The Spanish election and decision will be interpreted by the Islamists as a lesson that terror works. And not just against other states. Sure, we can probably look forward to attacks here as our enemies gain added motives to get Bush out of office, but Spain just painted a bigger target on themselves. Do the Spanish think that their cooperation in Iraq was their only sin? What grander demands will al Qaeda have? Spain is a NATO member. Spain occupies Moslem land (and not just the Parsley Island that Spain recently recaptured from Morocco after a near-farcical crisis. Spain occupies Spain for Pete’s sake! Former Moslem land! Spain has earned the distinction of being the one Western power to permanently retake Moslem land. Will this be forgotten by the Islamists?
Running from the war will not save Spain. America did not start the war—we merely decided to wage the war offensively.
I hoped Spain would stand with us. I dare say they will again. When they realize that there is no appeasing an enemy determined to kill us. The Spanish may or may not realize this by June 30.
I still mourn with the Spanish for their dead. Luckily, however, we are not all Spaniards.
“Did We Just Lose Spain?” (Posted March 14, 2004)
The Spanish opposition won today’s election. It appears that a public backlash against the government for supporting America on the Iraq question has occurred. The Spanish people believe they were targeted because they sided with us:
Spain's opposition Socialists have swept to power in a sensational election upset sparked by popular anger over the government's handling of a suspected al Qaeda attack on commuter trains that killed 200 people.
Once again, we see that an attack on a country does not just inspire the public to rally around the flag and close ranks against the foreign attacker. I’d hoped this time I’d be wrong and that the Spanish public would take a gut check and fight on.
Perhaps they still will after this venting at the polls is over.
I hope so. Hiding will not save them. I know they took a terrible blow on the 11th. I grieve with them. They did not deserve this attack. But do the Spanish really think the Islamists will forgive the Spanish for expelling the Moslems from Spain in the 15th century? The publicized claim of al Qaeda responsibility for the Madrid bombings may or may not be legitimate, but this sentiment surely reflects the Islamist view of Spain:
"This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America's ally in its war against Islam," the claim said.
The Spanish are a target. And we didn’t make them a target.
“I Defend My Honor—And Strategic Thinking” (Posted March 14, 2004)
The British organization Military Policy Research lists the articles in the January 1999 Army Magazine. Mine was one of them and it highlights it by quoting from my article, “A Total Army for Total War: The Guard Divisions Role”:
"Amazingly, nobody considers whether we may need to fight a large-scale war as we did in 1861-65, 1917-18 or 1941-45... While a peer competitor is not anticipated in the near term, reserves capable of fighting a larger-than-MTW threat must be maintained... Counting on a safe environment for the next two decades is itself too optimistic (p10)... The United States exhibits hubris by assuming nobody can challenge it in a conventional fight" (p12).
The following commentary savaged my essay:
The threat is conjured up in purely abstract terms, without the slightest effort at substantiation. If the author sees reason to fear all-out war, he should have the gumption to state it, not indulge in sarcastic 'amazement' that nobody else has seen fit to do it for him. To argue for a particular level of reserve component training and readiness is one thing; to preclude any attempt to match national military power to defensive needs, on the basis of such reasoning as this is quite another! The fact that this article tied for third prize in the 1998 Army Magazine essay contest suggests a deficiency of strategic vision in some US Army circles.
I don’t know when this was written. I discovered the brief critique in March 2004. I have a web page, so I will respond to what is stated.
I must wonder if the reviewer read my article. The reviewer complains that I spoke of the threat in only abstract terms and states I may not have had the “gumption” to write that I feared all-out war. The reviewer felt I was indulging in sarcasm for expressing amazement that we were not preparing for a larger war.
The reviewer misses my point completely.
I was not speculating about any particular threat. I was not, for example, hinting that we might have to fight China by invading and therefore need a continental-sized army. That said, China certainly could be an enemy. Or India. Or any of a number of countries in the arc of crisis from North Africa to Northeast Asia that might field a large army. My point was that our military strategy did not even include our Guard divisions in our war plans. We had capped the largest conceivable war as a major theater war that would call upon only five Army divisions and one or two Marine Expeditionary Forces to rapidly win. Given that we’d fought three large-scale wars against large conventional enemies in our history, I was amazed that we felt safe enough to make the assumption that we’d only face a Desert Storm Light conflict. I explicitly stated that I was not advocating a World War II-sized Army—or even the Army of 1990. I clearly stated that combat-focused Guard divisions were needed as a hedge against strategic surprise—not to fight a particular enemy coming down the pike. My point was that I could not predict the future and didn’t believe others could either—and that the Guard divisions were our only insurance policy so we’d best prepare it.
In addition to worrying about strategic surprise, I was concerned that even a predicted major theater war could stress our assumptions if we faced setbacks. If we endured heavy casualties and needed fresh forces, our theoretical ability to respond to a second war would be severely crippled. The need to rotate fresh divisions would require combat-focused Guard divisions to preserve our strategic reserve and deter a second war.
This was also the time of a peacekeeping focus for our Army and I was worried that assuming that the worst case scenario we might face was a short, decisive, and virtually bloodless major theater war was hubris. I thought I could see the beginnings of the victory disease being incubated and that a peacekeeping mindset would set us up for defeat in the initial battle of a war against a determined foe. I thought it would be wise to train and prepare for something worse than Desert Storm II (smaller version). The worst consequence of preparing for a tough enemy would be that we’d win faster and with fewer casualties if we did not face anything worse than our anticipated enemies.
Finally, I wanted the Guard included in our war plans because I value the bridging role of our reserve forces. Going to war should require the Guard to promote debate and to make sure that our leaders believe going to war is worth calling up our civilian reservists.
Is all this is a deficiency of strategic thinking? The strategic surprise did indeed take place on 9-11. I’d say that the war on terror has shown that our assumptions about how much landpower we need were inadequate. Instead of a rapid, contained victory followed by a fast return home, we face a generation of potential conflict. We do indeed need ground forces to rotate troops through Iraq and Afghanistan after the initial rapid, decisive conventional victories required continued fighting against irregulars to secure the war gains. The next rotation into Iraq in 2005 has already alerted a Guard division’s headquarters. And we went from considering a cut of two divisions in our active Army to considering adding two divisions. We may need more infantry divisions in the Guard as opposed to heavy divisions as I assumed in 1999, but we still need the divisions for warfighting purposes. I would not be surprised if the 2006 rotation puts two Guard divisions into Iraq (though by then I think it will be more of a garrison than a fighting force) and not require any active divisions at all.
I’d say the deficiency in strategic thinking—or at least imagination—rests elsewhere.
Still, I confess that getting ripped is kind of fun. It at least showed somebody was paying attention.
The synopsis as I wrote it is here.
“More Rallying Around the Flag” (Posted March 13, 2004)
More foreigners resisting US pressure by standing with their thug regime.
Well, no. Once again the opposition seems to be immune to the nuanced thinking that says US pressure is counter-productive. This time in Syria (via Instapundit), riots in Kurdish areas:
Friday's incident represents the most violent wave of protests in Syria in recent memory. They follow U.S. threats to take sanctions against Damascus for its support of terror organizations, coupled with American suspicions that Syria is not do all it can to prevent Saddam loyalists from entering Iraq through its border
Eighty dead according to the Kurds.
AP has a story, too. This says the death toll is much smaller but notes:
Spontaneous demonstrations are extremely unusual in Syria, where the Baath party has maintained tight political control for more than 30 years. A riot by Kurds, who dominate Syria's underdeveloped northeast, would be especially sensitive for authorities.
Don’t these Syrian people know they’re supposed to resent US pressure for more freedoms?
“Thugs Sending For Lawyers—Part Two” (Posted March 13, 2004)
Using laws to protect themselves when they themselves would not be bound them is standard operating practice for dictators.
The government of President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday it will file a complaint with the Organization of American States, accusing the United States of meddling in Venezuela's domestic affairs.
This can work. Because of people, nations, and international organizations that believe process is more important than substance. And for states that do not pose mortal threats to us, this can work.
But dabbling with terrorists, colluding with Castro, and threatening our oil imports can combine to elevate the threat.
And the United States, luckily for us, is willing to act in the face of process tying us up in knots (to the horror of the process anal retentive).
We shall see.
“It’s a Three-fer!” (Posted March 13, 2004)
Via NRO, this article has the goods on the idiot who acted for the Iraqi government is an effort to undermine US policy and aid the Baathists (while eagerly noting that she is White House chief of staff Card’s distant cousin, the national press ignores her pedigree):
Susan Lindauer, 41, of Takoma Park, Md., allegedly met with Iraqi Intelligence Service members during visits from October 1999 through March 2002 to the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in New York City; met with Iraqi officials in Baghdad in February or March 2002; and passed documents to an undercover FBI agent with whom she'd talked about helping post-war Iraqi resistance groups.
Staffer to left-wing members of Congress, journalist, and “peace activist.” Wow! Three for one!
Just a coincidence, I’m sure. No need for the press to mention her background. I mean, if she was a gun-owning, white supremacist, investment banker, I bet the press would have gone into long essays about how those characteristics made it pretty much inevitable that she’d betray her country.
The only way it could better is if she’s a Vegan, or works for Alec Baldwin, or something similarly odd.
“Iraqi Birthday” (Posted March 13, 2004)
With the blogosphere prompt with expressions of support for our friends who suffer at the hands of terrorists, it would be nice to have something positive to celebrate.
I’d say Iraq’s birthday, on June 30 when power is officially transferred to the new Iraq, would be a great occasion for bloggers to send happy birthday wishes to the new Iraq. It could be quite a bi-national celebration for years to come. A new democracy’s birthday followed less than a week later by the birthday of our old democracy.
According to the US State Department, “Official Iraqi representation and consular service in the United States have not been established.” I’ll have to find out what their Interest Section is, if any. I found one address on the web but don’t know if it is good. I emailed State Department. I’ll post the address when I get it.
“Saudi War on Bush?” (Posted March 13, 2004)
The American Thinker, via Instapundit, thinks the Saudis are waging a silent war on President Bush in the hopes that a Kerry presidency will be more pliant:
By restricting OPEC output since the end of hostilities in Iraq, the Saudis have forced oil prices up over the past several months. The American economic recovery is being slowly, almost imperceptibly, throttled. From a low of $23.61 per barrel in May, 2003, average crude oil prices have risen rather steadily, to $31.03 last month, up nearly one-third in eight months. If this rate of increase continues over the next eight months, the economic consequences for America will be grim.
On the surface it is plausible. The Saudis used the oil weapon after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War to punish the US for supporting Israel. The Saudis used the oil weapon in the Iran-Iraq War to drive down the price of oil to harm Iran, which relied on oil exports for revenue to fund the war (while Iraq could get loans). Setting aside whether these worked as it is assumed (Alaskan oil may have has as much to do with the price drop as Saudi production), that the Saudis believe they worked is some circumstantial evidence that the Saudis could be waging another oil war today.
Certainly, the Saudis aren’t doing us any favors by not turning on the spigots, but is it a silent war? The Saudis need cash to keep them in the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. And they gained a pretty hefty habit in the days when oil prices where sky high. And it isn’t just for fun that they need this money. They need to spread money around to keep themselves in power. And with restless Shias in Saudi Arabia seeing their brethren freed in Iraq and restless young people eager for more freedom seeing freedom arrive next door, the Saudi need for money becomes clear. Add this to the decline in the value of the dollar, which oil prices are tied to, Saudi profits go down when the value of the dollar goes down. Keeping the price of oil up can also be seen as a means of making up for the dollar’s drop in value. I don’t have to like this—hey, I by a hundred gallons of gas every month—but it doesn’t mean there is a dark reason for the price level.
Plus, the author highlights the monetary ties of many Americans to the Saudi government. The Saudis buy influence and this is clear. But after buying such friendship, wouldn’t the Saudis be more likely to seek to preserve their rule by working through these bought-and-paid-for ex-officials? Isn’t counting on a Kerry administration to be nicer to them a little risky? Haven’t the loyal opposition types hammered Bush since 9-11 over “coddling” the Saudis? Wouldn’t it be safer to rely on the paid friends rather than provoking a cowboy president who might just send in the 82nd Airborne to seize the oil fields rather than just sit and take it? We wouldn’t invade over mere price, but lots of people believe the “nuanced’ European interpretation of US policies and would believe anything bad about us.
We also have to ask whether the Saudis can really make things that bad for us. Can they really drive up prices enough to hurt our huge economy and deprive Bush re-election?
National Review Online describes the decreasing role of oil inputs to our economic outputs:
The average national price of gasoline has risen from $1.47 per gallon in mid-December to $1.74 in the latest week. This surge has reawakened fears that increased energy costs will put the brakes on economic growth. There are bound to be some negative effects from the higher prices, but they do not pose a serious hurdle for the economy.

Energy's role in the economy has changed substantially since the oil shocks of the 1970s. The economy consumed 16.7 thousand BTUs (or standard units) of energy per real dollar of gross domestic product in 1975, but that dropped to about 9.4 thousand in 2003, about a 44 percent decline. The drop is even more impressive when the energy source is petroleum, which fell from 7.6 thousand BTUs in 1975 to about 3.7 thousand in 2003 — a more than 50 percent decrease.
Not to say that higher prices don’t have an impact. Higher prices for inputs are higher inputs. But thus far, the author believes the effect is a “light braking” rather than a skid-to-a-halt impact.
Plus, this chart (and for the life of me I cannot remember the Hat Tip for this—I did not find it. Sorry) puts oil prices in perspective. In constant dollars, oil prices are not sky high. Mind you, I’d still pressure the Saudis to lower prices. Lower prices would help but we should not panic. We don’t have to like the recent increases, but how can this level be crippling? Coupled with the reduced oil input, the actual cost of gas is much less. I’m sure I’d be squawking more if my gas mileage was as bad as 1970s cars.
Certainly, oil pumped from West Africa, Venezuela, Russia, Libya, and right through Caribou carcasses in Alaska if we need to, becomes more important if we are to bypass the Saudi chokepoint. Regardless of Saudi motives, we need to lessen their role in he world economy to give us greater freedom of action to address their real problems and their impact on our security.
“3-11” (Posted March 13, 2004)
My heart goes out to the people of Spain. The tears of sorrow and rage that followed 9-11 could not be suppressed as I saw the stories of what the Spanish endured on March 11. The train bombings in Madrid were acts of terrorism designed to kill as many Spanish people as possible. There is no grievance that the Spanish can appease. No message to be heard. No injustice to be redressed. Just a killing spree.
As if we needed any more evidence that we are at war with scum committed to killing as many of us as they can. Some, sadly, will claim Spain was targeted because of their alliance with America.
Actually, some people do need to be reminded. As even the French briefly realized after 9-11, we are all Americans now. We are all Spaniards. We are all Australians. We are all Iraqis. We are all Moroccans. We are all Indonesians. We are all the “other” who are unworthy of life in the black hearts of the Islamists who have room in their universe for only the pure Moslems as they define “pure.”
The Spanish response of anger rather than a maddening “what did we do to deserve this” response was heartening.
The American people stand with the Spanish people as friends and allies. As we prosecute the war, we cannot tire of fighting. We cannot forget that only the means to kill us in the millions are lacking in our enemies—not the will. Recognize that we have enemies. Pursue our enemies. Kill them. Make their families grieve over their bodies. Make the Islamists fear us more than they fear Allah’s “commands” to kill the infidels.
We are at war. Is this not clear enough?
“Lessons in Sophisticated, Big-Brained, Diplomacy” (Posted March 10, 2004)
The US gave in to the EUs softer approach to Iranian nuclear ambitions. We won’t confront them over Iranian violations of their commitments to remain non-nuclear.
Those wise in the ways of nuance know that this will be appreciated by the “moderates” in Iran. They will reciprocate with reasonable steps to thank us for our sophistication.
Sadly, the Iranians announce they will proceed with enriching Uranium:
Iran said Wednesday it would resume uranium enrichment and warned it may quit cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which it accused of kowtowing to Washington at a crucial meeting in Vienna.
Big, sophisticated, European-trained brains understand the nuances of this diplomatic victory.
I am truly in awe.
“Mercenary Flight” (Posted March 10, 2004)
Ok, I knew it wasn’t likely that they were tourists.
They may be mercs.
Mugabe says he may execute them.
I eagerly await the outrage of the world community at this high-handed decision. I mean, the death penalty? How primitive. I’m sure the African Union will have something to say by way of condemnation. No. Maybe not. They’re all busy trying to work up good Third World outrage over Aristide’s just ouster.
“Send Money, Guns, and Lawyers” (Posted March 10, 2004)
This truly torques me off. Thug dictators terrorize their people in violation of the flimsy domestic protections offered by their laws and constitutions and contrary to international norms of decency. Then, they thwart the international community, which treats pieces of paper as real protections, as the international community futilely bleats about the thugs latest outrages.
Aristide is just one of the pettier thugs to follow this route. He even has attorneys!
Aristide believes he is still president of Haiti and will use the courts in his fight to return home, American lawyer Brian Concannon said in Paris after meeting Aristide in the Central African Republic.

In the United States, "there are preparations for a kidnapping case against the American authorities," Concannon said without elaborating.

Another American lawyer for Aristide, Ira Kurzban, wrote to Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites) asking the Justice Department (news - web sites) to investigate the circumstances of Aristide's Feb. 29 departure.
Sadly, his allies in this country are nothing new in the history of foreign thugs who can count on fools in this country to idealize their favorite thug. The fools will ignore the body count as long as they are able to pretend that the thug has a glorious vision. Or, in a pinch, if the thug is just anti-American.
And South Africa, eager to forfeit whatever moral standing it had from overcoming the Apartheid regime, wants a probe of the whole incident.
And the African Union, bored with having nothing to do after solving Africa’s festering problems of AIDS, civil war, dictatorships, genocide, corruption, and poverty, have decided that it must do something to erase the injustice of having American Marines, French Foreign Legionnaires, and Canadian soldiers preventing massacres and giving the Haitians a chance—however slight—to have a decent future:
Now in exile in the Central African Republic, Aristide insists the United States abducted him and forced him to leave his troubled Caribbean nation amid a weeks long insurgency. The United States has dismissed the allegations.

The 53-member AU, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, said the way Aristide "was removed set a dangerous precedent for duly elected persons."
Clearly, that must not stand.
I say the precedent that is so dangerous to the AU is that if you are thuggish enough in your rule, US Marines may escort you from the premises.
We should have shot Aristide’s sorry ass. Or dropped him in the Atlantic on the plane ride to Africa. We really needed to establish a precedent of how dangerous it is to be a thug ruler.
“Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” (Posted March 9, 2004)
One complaint that the “anti-war” side likes to make is that we should talk to thug regimes and avoid siding with the opposition because that will “play into the hands of the hardliners.” Their theory is that any words of encouragement by the US for democrats or human rights activists will just taint those activists and democrats.
We know this is wrong. After all, did 9-11 cause the loyal opposition to abandon their hatred of the administration and demand the blood of those who killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens? Well, no. In fact, it caused the opposition to wonder what we did to deserve this attack.
And we now have yet another indication that our actions can embolden dissidents and give them hope—not taint them! Not drive them to rally around the local dictator rather than accept the support of America!
Aktham Naisse, who leads the Committees for the Defense of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria, said Monday's sit-in outside parliament was a success even though police quickly detained all the demonstrators.

"As activists, we were able to send a clear message to the Syrian street, and to international public opinion, that we are serious about our demands and program," Naisse told The Associated Press in an interview. "We embarrassed the Syrian authorities which, unfortunately, showed they are unable and unwilling to meet our demands."
This is just another reminder that confronting our enemies doesn’t just automatically strengthen the hardliners and weaken our friends. Have we learned nothing? We give heart to the democratic resistance when we stand up to thugs.
I wish foreign attacks inspired a rally around the flag effect more thoroughly here.
I guess foreigners who oppose their dictatorial governments aren’t nearly as nuanced as our own opposition to our elected government.
“Stop the Presses!” (Posted March 9, 2004)
The United States has not, apparently, sent mercenaries to overthrow Mugabe:
A cargo plane impounded in Zimbabwe on suspicion of carrying 64 mercenaries is believed to have departed from South Africa and may have had South African nationals on board, authorities said Tuesday.
Not that he wouldn’t deserve it.
And I would like to note that we get criticized for picking up unlawful combatants off the battlefields of Afghanistan; and Mugabe gets a pass for stopping a bunch of guys with camping gear and a can of Mace.
“The Evidence We Alienated All Our Allies?” (Posted March 9, 2004)
The charge my some is that we’ve alienated our allies and that we couldn’t expect any of our former friends to come to our aid. Senator Kyl answers that we are getting help. Most recently in Haiti. And by whom?
Well, France, I guess. And Canada. Not to mention the more than 70 nations that are with us in the war against terrorism (including every one of the countries he mentioned). Or the 49 nations standing with us in Iraq.
This is a problem for opponents of US policy--do all those nations cooperate with America because it is in their own interest? If this is true, they will likely keep cooperating regardless of our so-called unilateralism. Or, do these nations cooperate as a favor to us? This would kind of undercut the "driving our allies away" argument.
Unless the “anti-war” critics are trying to suggest that all these countries are diabolically sucking us into a massive trap by embarking on a campaign of feigned cooperation until they can betray us with the big sting, their arguments that we have alienated the world are just silly.
“Wow” (Posted March 9, 2004)
Things seemed to be going well in Afghanistan, with troops closing on bin Laden. I think we were doing fine with our strategy of letting the Afghan central government take the lead in getting the provinces into the government while our troops hammered any large concentrations of Taliban to break them up and keep them from massing troops to overrun government police posts and villages. Doing this would keep Afghanistan from becoming a training ground for terrorists.
Recently, we changed our strategy to spread our forces out in the remaining troublesome provinces to do classic counter-insurgency by mingling with the population, doing civic improvements, patrolling, and otherwise reassuring the locals to cooperate with us. It seemed a more ambitious strategy to me.
Well, apparently, the situation has improved tremendously and this may be why we have the confidence to spread out and stamp out the smoldering pro-Taliban sentiment. Our top general in Europe, Jones, said:
"But we should be clear about the fact that the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban as fighters is virtually, almost complete," he said in testimony to a Belgian Senate committee.

"If you were to color code Afghanistan meaning secure and stable, yellow meaning somewhat dangerous and red meaning very dangerous, three-quarters of the entire country would be green by any evaluation today."

Jones said last month after briefings at the headquarters of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan that the number of hard-core Taliban and al Qaeda guerrillas had dropped below 1,000 and their strength appeared to be waning.
I have to believe he’s serious. Normally, I’d expect senior officers to be cautiously optimistic at best. His willingness to proclaim such success is a heck of a good sign.
My good feeling about nailing bin Laden may be quite well placed.
“Casualties in Iraq” (Posted March 9, 2004)
I was happy to note that our casualties in Iraq have plummeted. I think we’ve had two killed in action from February 20 to today. This is especially remarkable since the big rotation is going on. More troops on the road. Newer troops replacing the year-old veterans. The military warned there might be an upsurge in attacks. But instead, we’ve had a couple over nearly three weeks.
While good news, I worried that we were possibly pulling back from an offensive posture to gain a respite from the daily death toll. But my nagging doubts were for nothing according to Strategypage.
Training, adaptability, and intelligence have rocked the Baathists back on their heels. The result?
A lot of Sunni Arabs, the usual participants in these attacks, simply won't take on American troops any more. Too many attackers have been caught in the act and killed. Making attacks at night is particularly scary for Iraqis, because of the abundance of night vision devices the Americans have, and use enthusiastically. Moreover, at night you cannot see the UAVs circling overhead with their night vision videocam pointed earthward. 
Keep the pressure on the Baathists and hunt down the Islamists.
“This is Curious” (Posted March 8, 2004)
This story is odd:
Zimbabwean authorities have seized a U.S.-registered cargo plane carrying 64 "suspected mercenaries" and military equipment, the Home Affairs minister said Monday.
I seriously doubt we are up to anything. There are plenty of mercenary companies out there and I suppose it is possible we or somebody friendly hired some people for action in the region. But if so, I can’t believe we’d fly through Zimbabwe given Mugabe’s instability.
Could just be somebody’s new bodyguard detail making an ill-chosen stopover.
Quite curious.
“Too Annoying to Remain in Office” (Posted March 8, 2004)
Seriously, Chavez is just too annoying to remain in office. Look at what that Castro-wannabe is saying:
President Hugo Chavez on Sunday vowed to freeze oil exports to the United States and wage a "100-year war" if Washington ever tried to invade Venezuela.

The United States has repeatedly denied ever trying to overthrow Chavez, but the leftist leader accuses Washington of being behind a failed 2002 coup and of funding opposition groups seeking a recall referendum on his presidency.

Chavez accused the United States of ousting former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and warned Washington not to "even think about trying something similar in Venezuela."

Venezuela "has enough allies on this continent to start a 100-year war," Chavez said during his weekly television show.

He added that "U.S. citizens could forget about ever getting Venezuelan oil" if the United States ever tried to invade.
Sure, invading Venezuela isn’t really in the cards. Even though three of our brigades could take apart the Venezuelan military, we can’t easily afford to get involved in South America when we have more pressing national security issues to address. The oil is important to our economy, but this would be a war of choice.
But that doesn’t mean we are helpless. Since we are being accused of interfering, let’s go for it. Support the opposition openly with diplomatic and financial backing.
Just remember, in light of our failure to back the last coup that momentarily ousted Chaves, that when you strike a king, kill him.
And don’t let the yahoo snipe at us from exile. We pay a price when we are nice to thugs.  Like one is doing. No good deed goes unpunished, eh? Seriously, if we can get rid of Chavez we should do it. Some look at Aristide and complain we are not living up to our commitment to democracy in Latin America:
Aristide's Haiti was no poster child for democracy. There was little respect for free speech or tolerance of political opponents. The country's 2000 legislative elections were flawed. Aristide's own victory in a presidential election that year was tainted by an opposition boycott, low turnout and charges of intimidation.

Yet, the world recognized Aristide as Haiti's legitimate leader. And the days were supposed to be long-gone when democratically elected Latin American leaders were forced from office under the threat of violence.
The author confuses recognition with democracy. Apartheid-era South Africa was recognized. Soviet Russia was recognized. Heck, Saddam’s Iraq, Iran’s mullacracy, and the Pillsbury Nuke Boy’s North Korea are recognized by the vaunted world community. I say the days when dictators could count on the stamp of approval from the international community to keep them in power should be long gone.
Let’s not protect Chavez.
Hmm. What does my 1999-2000 The Military Balance say about Venezuela? It’s within arm’s reach…
An army of 34,000 with 27,000 of them conscripts. They have 81 old French AMX-30 main battle tanks, 75 World War II-era M-18 tank destroyers better suited to sitting in front of American Legion posts, 30 AMX-13 French light tanks that last saw successful use in the 1967 Six Day War, and 80 Scorpion 90s. British light armor, I believe. Some wheeled APCs and some artillery. The navy has 5,000 marines plus 6 frigates and 2 submarines. I rather doubt they are more than nominally seaworthy. The air force has about 50 F-16s, Mirages, and F-5s. This could be the most formidable branch, but a couple carriers should be able to embark sufficient aircraft to destroy the Venezuelan air force and quickly nullify it if necessary. B-2s might destroy them in advance.
Now I’m not saying it is wise to go to war to overthrow Chavez. I think we should apply non-military means to get rid of this thug.
But somebody needs to explain to El Maximum Dope’ that the Venezuelan military is not up to the task of waging war for 100 hours let alone 100 years.
Of course, if we find that Chavez is playing with the Devil and opening up his country to Islamists and Castro, Chavez could promote himself from tinpot dictator status too petty to address up to actual threat worthy of dealing with.
“Could We Do Better Today?” (Posted March 8, 2004)
The Iraqis agreed to an interim constitution. The impression I’ve gotten from some commentary on NPR tonight on the way home is that this was darned lucky. We were on the edge of disaster and boy is Bush lucky he escaped this disaster.
This was a wonderful occasion and the document is the best you’ll see in the Arab world. And even better, it has the best chance of actually being followed. Much work remains to be done but it is indeed a great day.
I wonder how well we would do if we had to write a new constitution today?
“I’m Getting a Good Feeling About This” (Posted March 8, 2004)
According to TV news Sunday, the Pakistanis came close to nabbing Bin Laden recently. I’ve long thought Osama was dead. In the last couple months I’ve started to think he might still be kicking. Which makes his failure to hit us again a pretty big deal rather than being the natural consequences of being dead.
With recent comments that capturing Osama too close to the election or too close to the conventions or too close to Martha’s appeal, or whatever, I sure hope we aren’t putting our troops in danger taking risks trying to get him now to forestall opposition complaints of timing. It has taken time for the Pakistanis to get their troops into the tribal areas without provoking resistance. Now that the Pakistanis have bribed or blackmailed the tribal leaders into cooperation, we can seriously beat the bushes for al Qaeda remnants.
But as I said, I’m feeling strangely optimistic about the prospects of Osama’s capture soon.
And capture will be very humiliating for the Islamists after his lengthy inaction.
I think we’ll get that waste of oxygen soon. Personally, I hope we shoot him on sight.
“9-11 References” (Posted March 6, 2004)
With all due respect to the personal losses, those complaining about the brief image of Ground Zero in a Bush ad are making arguments that are worthless to me. I won’t go into the politics of those complaining. Others have.
I will settle for noting that this was an act of war against our entire country—not a crime against their loved ones. That’s why the taxpayers of the entire country are paying them millions in compensation. That’s why the taxpayers are paying tens of billions to New York. That’s why the Air Force patrols their skies and that is why our military reached out and crushed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Some say that this is the equivalent of showing bodies of our soldiers returning from Iraq. Bull. That would be the equivalent of a Bush ad showing desperate people diving to their certain deaths from the World Trade Center. That would be the equivalent of playing the tapes of the resisting passengers on Flight 93 as they prevented a fourth suicide attack from taking place.
Let the opposition use images of 9-11 and argue they will do better.
September 11 was an attack on our entire nation and if we aren’t supposed to discuss the proper response to the attack and how we can prevent even worse attacks, I don’t know what is.
Pupil testing, I suppose.
“Pillsbury Nuke Boy Stalls for Time” (Posted March 6, 2004)
Good. I think time is on our side with North Korea. Via Instapundit, this article notes that the North Koreans think Kerry would give them a better deal and would prefer to put off a deal until January 2005:
In the past few weeks, speeches by the Massachusetts senator have been broadcast on Radio Pyongyang and reported in glowing terms by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), the official mouthpiece of Mr Kim's communist regime.

The apparent enthusiasm for Mr Kerry may reflect little more than a "better the devil you don't know" mentality among the North Korean apparatchiks. Rather than dealing with President George W. Bush and hawkish officials in his administration, Pyongyang seems to hope victory for the Democratic candidate on November 2 would lead to a softening in US policy towards the country's nuclear weapons programme.
We want to delay to let them rot and deal with more pressing concerns; and North Korea wants to delay to get a Kerry presidency and a better deal.
North Korea will be weaker in a Bush second term and the North Koreans will be faced with four more years of clear-headed opposition to them. Before the end of Bush’s second term, the North Koreans will also likely be the last charter Axis of Evil member left standing.
North Korea’s criminal regime is drinking champagne and feasing on caviar resting upon a foundation that is rotting away from within and their only hope of survival is foreign aid.
Counting on a better deal with another president is a major mistake on their part.
But shoot, who knows, maybe we will get stupid again and save them from themselves. It’s always possible, Heaven forbid.
“The Headline is Misleading” (Posted March 6, 2004)
The headline saysTaiwan Leader Proposes to Slash Military.”
This is what the Taiwan president said:
"We hope to cut the number of people in the army from 385,000 to 270,000," Chen said Saturday in a 30-minute televised address.
This isn’t quite “slashing.” This is really the recognition that Taiwan does not need a large army just in case it needs to return to the mainland, march on Peking, and finally win the civil war after the fifty-year setback of temporarily retreating to the island.
Indeed, one could have the exact same headline for China, which is slashing its massive leg infantry army. But the headline isChina's Army Show New Sophistication.” Twenty Chinese water purification troops are in Liberia and the Liberians respond by cutting ties to Taiwan. First of all, the battle of aid for diplomatic recognition is a long-running battle between China and Taiwan. Nothing new.
Second, the article notes that the Chinese plan to cut their army by hundreds of thousands. It would have been just as misleading to say the Chinese are slashing their army. China is shedding excess landpower. China doesn’t need to worry about Russia driving deep into Manchuria as they did in the Soviet days; and can instead focus on naval and air power to fight the US and capture Taiwan. This certainly hurts us. It would be nice if Russia becomes a real democracy (though I’m not nearly as pessimistic as many seem to be about the future of democracy in Russia) and bolsters land forces in the Far East again. India and Vietnam can tie down Chinese land power, too, as can South Korea. South Korea will need a large land army even when North Korea collapses since the Chinese will be their neighbor.
And third, it is ludicrous to call these water purification troops “elite” as the article does. They may very well be well-trained, but elite? Please. “Elite” is a term used by so many reporters who have no idea what elite troops are.
But back to Taiwan. Just as China doesn’t need masses of infantry any more, neither does Taiwan need all those army troops. The Taiwanese need a better trained and equipped, but smaller, army and the Taiwanese really needs air power and sea power to protect themselves from a Chinese invasion or blockade. They really need missile defenses. They really need bunkers for their air force to preserve them from mainland bombardment, the ability to repair damage to airfields, and robust communications that will allow the Taiwanese to move their forces to counter a Chinese attack and communicate with the US in a crisis.
“Reforming” their military would be a better word.
“This is the Problem with Exile” (Posted March 6, 2004)
When dictators escape justice they can cause problems for us. Saddam’s existence motivated Baathists after the fall of Baghdad. Since his capture, the Baathist resistance seems to have lost heart.
Now, with Aristide sitting in exile instead of sitting in prison or a grave, his supporters still dream of returning him to power:
Meanwhile, Aristide's Paris-based lawyer said the former president was forced from office. Attorney Gilbert Collard said Aristide told him he did not resign, adding to his supporters' hopes he might return to Haiti.

Aristide, who remains in secluded asylum in the Central African Republic, acknowledged writing "a note indicating that if his departure prevented a bloodbath, he would leave," Collard said. But the ex-leader also said that "if he had to resign, he would have done it according to the constitution and not with the push of a foreign power."

Collard said he was working with a U.S.-based lawyer to try to determine whether the United States, and perhaps France, violated international law by pressing Aristide to step down.
Is this what our world has come to? A thug is forced from power after having demonstrated his absolute contempt for justice, rule of law, and good governance, and the thug is consulting with attorneys to see if every T was crossed and every I dotted? Is it truly possible that America and France could have run afoul of international law and that will be the most important factor in this crisis and not the bankruptcy of the Aristide regime? Will people here really attack the administration on these grounds?
The Libyans came clean on WMD when they saw what happened to the Baathists and their master, Saddam. Fear prompted Khadaffi’s abandonment of WMD. Would fear of comfy exile have motivated him? We’d still be arguing over the evidence instead of knowing this for example:
Libya acknowledged stockpiling 44,000 pounds of mustard gas and disclosed the location of a production plant in a declaration submitted Friday to the world's chemical weapons watchdog.
Chavez is worrying about the US as he struggles to maintain his worthless regime in power.
How many thugs will quake in fear if Aristide’s ouster is treated as an outrage of international law?
I wasn’t too keen on the intervention before we went in, but I’d have to remove my brain stem to ever believe that what we did was immoral. We should be getting praised for getting a petty dictator out of the way.
Truly, thugs worldwide will sleep a little better at night if they think we are hamstrung in dealing with their misdeeds by pieces of paper that protect them. Thug regimes ignore the pieces of paper that protect their victims, whether domestic or in other countries. The thugs should get no better consideration.
“Why?” (Posted March 4, 2004)
Via Andrew Sullivan, this complaint in MSNBC that we could have bombed the guy who carried out the Karbala and Baghdad bombings this week:
In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.
Maybe we didn’t strike because we'd had futile experience sending cruise missiles into mountains to get one guy. Maybe we didn’t strike back then because we didn't want to scatter them before we invaded and went after them with ground forces, too. Remember, we cruise missiled them and sent in special forces and Kurds. The survivors did scatter into Iran.
If I recall, I think I wanted to hit the camp before we went to war with Iraq. But I give the administration the benefit of the doubt on deciding not to attack.
Shoot, I can imagine the howls of protest from those who would claim we were starting the war before even giving the UN a chance to persuade Saddam to give in. I can see Tony Blair getting too much heat over our pre-preemptive strike to side with us in the war.
War is not a game. It is not easy. And it sure isn’t nearly as clear cut as the article suggests.
Somalia Next?” (Posted March 4, 2004)
From my Jane’s email service, just this: “Somalia's warlords are making haste to present a united front, but that may not stop US strikes.” While I assumed the warlord solidarity would grease the skids to intervention rather than be a hindrance, the key thing is the assumption that we will strike Somali territory.
I’ve been advocating such a move for a while now. The signs all seem to be there.
This spring, I should think.
“We Created Terrorists?” (Posted March 4, 2004)
It is conventional wisdom of people who opposed the Iraq War that we created terrorists who wouldn’t have otherwise existed if we hadn’t invaded Iraq. Like the Aristide supporters, they only reluctantly agree that Iraq is better off without Saddam.
But riddle me this, Batman. If overthrowing Saddam created Islamist enemies that wouldn’t otherwise have existed because our troops over there inspired violent anti-Americanism amongst happy shopkeepers and farmers, how come the Islamists are killing Shias and Sunnis? Call me crazy, but I’d have thought killing fellow Moslems would be unlikely for Islamists hopped up on anti-Americanism and filled with Moslem solidarity.
I thought there is a problem with Islamist radicals twisting Islam in order to justify killing Jews, Americans, Shias, or even any Sunni Moslems who don’t think killing those in the earlier categories is just dandy.
What do I know?
“Let’s Just Get it Over With” (Posted March 4, 2004)
Get rid of Chavez of Venezuela, that is. I wasn’t sure what we should do before, but the lunatic reaction to the departure/ouster of Aristide of Haiti has convince me that we might as well get rid of Chavez if we can count on the CIA to pull it off. He’s our enemy and he is arguably opening his country to Islamists and giving them a safe haven in our hemisphere. What on earth do we have to lose?
Caribbean states are so upset with the “how” of Aristide’s departure that even UN authorization and French approval aren’t enough to get them to help in Haiti. They actually worry about the precedent of removing a dictator. No worries about the precedent of tolerating dictators, apparently.
Seriously, we might as well do something since we can’t win with some types. We’ll be blamed regardless of what we do. And I’m not even talking about Ted Rall lunacy. Look at what they say:
Larry Birns, of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, blamed the Bush administration for Aristide's exit. With a tilt to the left in Latin America in recent years, he worried it would encourage right-wing U.S. officials to go after leaders such as Chavez.

"Haiti was not about a flawed president but about a flawed (U.S.) foreign policy," said the director of the liberal think tank. "The Haiti pattern shows this administration is capable of anything. It will have an enormous negative reaction throughout Latin America and Chavez has cause to lose sleep."

U.S. officials have struggled this week to stave off concerns Chavez could meet Aristide's fate. In 2002, the Bush administration initially appeared to welcome a short-lived coup against the friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro (news - web sites) and has persistently criticized him while backing opposition demands for a recall vote against him.
“Blame?” We should get credit for easing that Mini Nutball out of power. Instead we get complaints?! And further, we get complaints that poor Chavez could unjustly be next?!
Are these people serious. A “liberal think tank,” eh? Liberal, perhaps, though I’d hope that slavish devotion to anti-American dictators isn’t the norm. But there’s no thinking going on there. And no tanks would ever be involved, I can only assume (and I doubt they can tell a tank from an IFV, anyway). But Lord, when they get caught up in arguing whether we told Aristide to go or told him we would not protect him so he’d better go if he didn’t want the mob outside to kill him, those making that argument are just nuts.
Haiti will be better off with Aristide gone. Until the next dictator comes along, of course. We can’t work magic in that cursed half of an island.
And why on earth should we be staving off any concerns that Chavez could meet Aristide’s fate? We should encourage that fear. Does the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN who just resigned in protest know something?
We probably won’t do anything so we don’t “waste” a major intervention on a non-Axis of Evil state or AoE wannabe, but it sure would be nice if we could do something.
God save me from idiots.
“The Opposition is Truly Screwed” (Posted March 3, 2004)
The Venezuelan opposition is being squashed by the hemisphere’s second-tier anti-American dictator, Chavez, as he engineers a dismissal of the petition drive to force a referendum on his awful rule:
Venezuela's opposition appealed to the Organization of American States, the U.S.-based Carter Center and other countries with an interest in the stability of the world's No. 5 oil exporter to reverse Tuesday's ruling.
Unless we can walk into his office and order Chavez to board a plane for African exile, I’m not sure what we can do here. But I am pretty sure that when the opposition is reduced to asking former president Carter for help, they are probably screwed.
Still, much like we dithered in Panama, allowing possible coups against Noriega to crumble before we acted decisively; perhaps after refusing to back the last coup that actually unseated Chavez briefly, this time we will be resolute if the opposition moves. Not an invasion, mind you, as in Panama, but solid diplomatic and moral support if the opposition decides to take on Chavez when he rules out democratic means of addressing his rule.
It would be nice if a major oil exporter could avoid getting torn apart in a destructive civil war.
It would be really nice if we could get the referendum going soon to prompt a new election and not just let the puppet vice president take over for the remainder of the term.
Why do oil exporters seem to get afflicted so easily with nutballs for rulers?
“Difference of Strategy?” (Posted March 3, 2004)
Right. Differences between the US and EU over how to deal with Iran’s violations of its commitments to stay a non-nuclear state under international agreement is a difference of strategy.
Specifically, the European strategy is to cave and surrender. While we want to call Iran on its violation of its treaty obligations:
U.S. officials and experts fear that failing to take action against Iran would undermine the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, a bedrock against the spread of nuclear weapons.

Now U.S. officials said they are looking to have the IAEA board adopt a statement that keeps Iran on the agenda and underscores concern about the new revelations.

"We want to be tougher (than the Europeans) and call Iran to task for past failures. The question is whether it will be tough enough to meet our standards and to convince Iran we really do mean business," one U.S. official said.
And we’re the ones who are not good multilateralists committed to maintaining international agreements?
Seriously, I think we will deal with Iran in early 2005. Another troop rotation in Iraq will temporarily increase our troop strength on the ground just in case. I’ve read reports from several sources over the last months talking about the friendship toward the US that exists in the Iranian armed forces and among the Iranian people. Other reports say that Iran could go nuclear next year. Plus, it will be safely past the election so the ANSWER sympathetic types can’t drone on about “endless” wars.
Dealing with Iran in early 2005 makes sense.
We really need to start dragging the Europeans along with us. I think we’ll pull them to our side as they see the futility of appeasing the Iranian hardliners. Then we’ll help the Iranians help themselves in early 2005 to knock off another member of the Axis of Evil.
Of course, I’ve been wrong before about the reasonableness of the Europeans (and I say this as the collective EU sense of the word—not in regard to individual countries in Europe).
“The Chinese Can Kiss My--” (Posted March 2, 2004)
Assessments by the US of the deteriorating Chinese human rights record were rejected angrily by Peking. Punctuating their anger, they have compiled there own Bizarro World human rights report on America. I can only assume our charges stung since they worked so hard to pretend we have human rights problems here. I mean other than Alec Baldwin being shepherded from safe house to safe house in Hollywood, desperate to escape to France before Ashcroft’s storm troopers arrest him.
Keep hammering them on this issue.
The Chinese are far more likely to be our enemy, in my judgment, than they are to be our strategic partner as long as they are run by a dictatorship. Hammering them on human rights may one day push their communist system over and hasten the day when they are our friends. Or it may weaken a communist state determined to take us on in the not-so-distant future.
Target:Shias” (Posted March 2, 2004)
Somebody wants Shias in Iraq dead. Lots of them. Coordinated attacks in Karbala and Baghdad left more than one hundred dead. The question is, who did it? Sunni Islamists who hate Shias and who want to provoke the Shias in order to rally Sunnis to resistance? Secular Baathists who want to ride Sunni fear in the resulting civil war to power? Iranian Shias who want a religious war to radicalize Iraq’s Shias and gain influence as their protectors?
I’d guess foreign Islamists. Next likely, the Iranians. Who knows, maybe the rigged election of the hardliners was the green light the mullahs needed to seriously fight us in Iraq.
Shoot, even if the Islamists hope to spark a civil war, there strategy might backfire. What if the prospect of being blamed for vicious attacks scares the crap out of the Sunnis? The Turnover date for Iraqi sovereignty is coming soon and the Sunnis might be driven to cooperate in hunting down the terrorists just to prove they aren’t behind the attacks.
Luckily, we captured some suicide bombers who apparently didn’t completely grasp the concept and were captured. Perhaps they failed because it does take time to train these people and if they are indigenously recruited, they may have been rushed through training without it sticking. But we will find out where they came from. Failing to kill even yourself has to be quite demoralizing to a captured suicide bomber.
Sunni Islamist hatred of Shias should not be underestimated. In Pakistan, Shias suffered an attack too.
Like I’ve said, we could really turn the Shias to our friends if they can get past some of the loopy conspiracy theories that hold we carried out the carnage.
Of course (via NRO), loopy conspiracies are not restricted to insulated poverty-stricken Shias. I wish we were so powerful that we could order thug presidents to get out of town. If we could, I’d start with Chavez in Venezuela, who is a pro-Castro thug who is no friend of ours to say the least. Well, maybe third anyway. (And this is ahead of Chirac on my lucid days!)
On Iraq, regardless of who did it, we must ensure that the Shias (and Kurds, too, who suffered bombings) do not pick up the theme of civil war. We must make sure that a transitional Shia-majority government takes over June 30 and reassure the Shias that elections will take place reasonably soon.
The Kurds are another balancing act for us.
Even as trends go well slowly for us, we must guard against setbacks such as this that can threaten our progress.
“Guard in Command” (Posted March 1, 2004)
Our reserves are quite possibly the best in the world. They surpass the quality of all but a few active duty forces. They would be recognized for their excellence but for being compared to the best ground forces in the world—the US Army and Marine Corps.
Yet the quality is there. For the next rotation in Iraq, a divisional headquarters of the Army National Guard has been alerted as have three separate brigade-sized separate units:
The major commands being alerted are the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters from New York, the 256th Separate Infantry Brigade from Louisiana, the 116th Separate Armored Brigade from Idaho and the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment from Tennessee.
In the Iraq War, Guard battalions served well bolstering the active forces. In the current rotation of forces, Guard brigades are serving in active divisions. In the next rotation, a Guard division will command forces. This doesn’t indicate if the three Guard units will serve under the Guard division. Perhaps it is uncertain whether we will dedicate one sector to the Guard or split up the brigades mixed with active brigades. The Guard division might command active component units as the Army has done in Bosnia with success.
Oh, and regarding the rotation, this comment by an American Staff Sergeant amused me:
"That drive to Kuwait from Tikrit is the only concern for me," he said. The insurgents' "usual methods of attack are mere cowardice, where they use IEDs. (improvised explosive devices) and RPGs (rocket propelled grenades). They don't confront us face-to-face."
Remember when the Taliban complained that we bombed them and that if we would only fight on the ground, they’d show us who was the boss? And then we arrived on the ground to hunt them down and chased them out of their mountain redoubts.
And then Saddam said that when we went man-to-man, he’d show our troops to be cowards and not capable of fighting his warriors? And then we chased his vaunted Fedayeen into the cities and killed them. And his Special Republican Guards wet their pants when 3rd ID and I MEF pounded on the gates of Baghdad.
And even when we set aside our air power and artillery after we captured Baghdad and fought the Baathists with small arms and courage alone, we bloodied their noses so much that they shrank from directly confronting us.
Be careful what you wish for. Isn’t that the saying?
“Into Haiti” (Posted March 1, 2004)
Well, we went in. I was unsympathetic to the mission. But it won’t be tough. Haitian rebels are no Islamists. And it won’t break the force or the bank to go in in battalion strength for a bit until a non-US force comes in. This is our mission:
At the request of the new president of Haiti, President Bush has ordered the deployment to Haiti of a contingent of U.S. Marines as the leading element of a multinational interim force.
The mission of the U.S. forces being deployed is to secure key sites in the Haitian capital of Port au Prince for the purposes of:
·        Contributing to a more secure and stable environment in the Haitian capital to help promote the constitutional political process;
·        Assisting as may be needed to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance;
·        Protecting U.S. citizens as may be required.
·        Facilitating the repatriation of any Haitian migrants interdicted at sea;
·        Helping create the conditions for the anticipated arrival of a U.N. multinational force.
These are reasonable missions all things considered. We are basically trying to provide a peaceful transition between one group of thugs and another group that we hope will be less thuglike.
I would never argue that the Haitians don’t deserve a chance for peace. Nor would I ever argue our mission is immoral.
I suppose I could argue endlessly about the decision already made, but instead, I wish the Marines, French, and Canadians who are there now Godspeed. May they make a difference. May they accomplish their mission.
This attitude is how one supports the troops. Just for future reference.
“Marine Corps Opportunity” (Posted March 1, 2004)
It occurs to me that with casualties down in Iraq, oil production up, and a temporary constitution agreed to, Sunni resistance may be ripe for giving up the ghost.
I’ve suggested that the June 30 turnover, as it gets closer, will force the Sunnis to make a choice between resisting the majority Shias after they get the organs of state power in their hands or accept a diminished role in a democratic Iraq while the US is still there to influence the process to protect minority rights. Angry Shias or reasonable Americans? Quite the choice. You have little time in which to make it.
With the Marine Corps taking over from the Army west of Baghdad in that hotbed of Baathist resistance, the Sunnis will both face a force with an imposing reputation (and that is with the knowledge that the Army has beaten them down this past year) and have an excuse to give up fighting. The Marines will be a new force, with a different approach that could be well suited to persuading the dwindling resistance fighters to just give up. A new Army force might be a challenge that the Baathists might still feel they must accept. The Marines were not the ones chasing them down and killing them the past year and so may be seen as a chance for a fresh start with no face to lose for giving them a chance.
Maybe not. It’s just a thought. But I’ll watch for this one as the Marines rotate in.
The foreign Islamists are a different matter, of course. But without Sunnis helping them or at least looking the other way, they will be easier to pick off.
And the Marines are still a little eager for revenge against the Islamists. Remember the Beirut Marine barracks bombing? The Marines sure as Hell do.